Body Language, A Candidate’s Perspective
If you’re preparing for an interview, you need to give some consideration to what your body language is saying about you. I’m not a fan of body-language interpretation, but I think I’m in the minority because everyone else seems to be on a body-language kick. Do an Internet search for it and you’ll find hundreds of articles.
Forbes published an article on the “10 Worst Body Language Mistakes To Make In An Interview.” And Career Builder has a post on their site, “Body Language Do’s and Don’ts.”
How Important Is Body Language?
From a candidate’s perspective, it doesn’t matter much whether you believe in it or not. You are more than likely going to face an interview team who puts at least some degree of weight on your body language, which means if you want to make the best impression you’ll have to adhere to the basics.
How is your posture? Do you slouch?
They’ll likely attribute that to being lazy or arrogant.
Do you look people in the eye and maintain eye contact?
If not, they might assume you’re hiding something. Hold contact too long, and you risk being viewed as too aggressive, making the interviewer uncomfortable.
Do you lean forward when speaking, or being spoken to?
No? Then you might be tagged as being uninterested or lacking in confidence.
Are you expressive? Do you fidget? Cross your arms? Put your hands behind your back?
The lists go on and on. You could spend hours researching it and come up with conflicting opinions on just about every possible signal.
So How Do You Handle Body Language?
I should tell you to read all the information and practice good posture, be expressive, show interest by leaning forward, holding eye contact…but I won’t tell you that. My advice is to be yourself. If you happen to be a sloucher, it wouldn’t hurt to put a little effort into straightening up, but don’t go so far as to make yourself uncomfortable, or to focus so much on posture that you lose your edge in the interview.
It also wouldn’t hurt to glance at the interviewer a time or two, but if that’s not in your genes to do that, I wouldn’t worry too much.
Could ignoring the body-language rules cost you the job offer? In some companies—yes. But if the company you’re talking to is going to reject you based on body language, maybe you don’t want to join them anyway.
Just For Laughs
If you really want to see what expressive gestures are, take a look at this video of a Sicilian woman chatting with her granddaughter. My father used to say “You don’t have to gag an Italian, just tie their hands.” Now you’ll see why.