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Body Language in a Job Interview - What You Could Be Missing

Aug 20, 2008
So you've got a great CV, it has got you a great interview. Your shirt is pressed and your shoes are shined, so what can go wrong? It is important that you 'talk yourself up' during a job interview, but your body language could be communicating much more than the words coming out of your mouth.

Body language is sub conscious, and so people are largely unaware of the way they communicate with their bodies. Only 7% of communication is actual words, with 55% being visual (body posture, expressions) and 38% is speech (tone, pitch, speed, volume). Successful people generally project a confident, winning persona in each of these areas. Remember before even a word is uttered in your job interview, your body language has already made that all important first impression.

The problem with body language is that it doesn't necessarily reflect what you really feel. Keeping hands in your pockets or stiff by your side can make you look nervous, or slouching in a chair can make you look lazy, even if it's not true. If you don't establish enough eye contact with your interviewers, it can lead them to think you are not being completely honest, even if your lack of eye contact is due to consulting your CV or being shy or nervous. It is important that you try to be aware of your body language and try to take control of it. This is easier said than done but there are a few basic things to remember :

Shaking hands
Establish eye contact when shaking hands, as it will make you appear enthusiastic and happy to be in the company of the interviewers. Shake hands when someone extends theirs to you, but it may be a good idea not to initiate handshakes yourself. This could appear over-confident or arrogant.

Once you are sat down, consider your posture carefully. Being slouched or laid back in the chair can make you appear uninterested or lazy, whilst perching on the edge might make you appear edgy or nervous. You need to appear alert yet relaxed, confident and attentive.

Eye Contact
When people are talking, show that you are interested by establishing eye contact (not necessarily constantly) and turning your body towards the speaker. You can also show indications of your attention by tilting your head, nodding your head and saying "yes".

When talking, try to gesture with your hands. Regardless of what you think about using hand gestures, they help you communicate clearly.
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