We've all heard about the importance of body language. We all know what our non-verbal communication says about our true feelings than we often realise.
Now put this in an interview situation and being aware or more importantly not, of the signals you're giving out, could be the difference between being offered the job or not.
On the flip side, focussing too much on body language can look OTT or like you're “trying” to strike the right poses.
So whether it is an interview or just your ongoing day at work, think about these body language fails.
Eye Contact. It is easy to get this one wrong. You don’t want to glare someone down with fierce eye lock. At the same time, never looking at the person you're talking to in the eye, gives the idea that you would rather be anywhere but in the conversation. It is important to look at the person talking to you but the occasional look away would break the uncomfortableness created by an eye-lockdown!
Watching the clock. Checking the clock while you are talking to someone is a clear sign of disrespect. You are basically telling them that you are already mentally somewhere else. If you have somewhere to be at a specific time tell the person before you start talking to them. If not check your time before your interview / meeting and if essential set an alarm in your pocket that can vibrate a few moments before you need to leave.
Exaggerated gestures. These can imply that you’re stretching the truth. Aim for small, controlled gestures to indicate leadership and confidence, and open gestures — like spreading your arms apart or showing the palms of your hands — to communicate that you have nothing to hide.
Crossed arms. This is obvious but often overlooked. It indicates you are being guarded, standoffish and gauranteed not to make a good impression.
Exaggerated nodding signals. People may perceive your heavy nods as an attempt to show you agree with or understand something that you actually don’t.
Fidgeting. Fixing your hair for example, signals that you’re anxious, over-energised, self-conscious, and distracted. People will perceive you as overly concerned with your physical appearance and not concerned enough with your career.
Facial expressions. Rolling your eyes and scowling can often be voluntary but is a fail-proof way to communicate lack of respect. Fortunately, while it may be a habit, it’s voluntary. You can control it, and it’s worth the effort to learn how to keep this in check. Scowling makes people feel they are being judged. Smiling on the other hand shows you to be trustworthy and friendly.
Weak handshakes. These signal that you lack authority and confidence, but a handshake that is more like a vice grip can be perceived as an aggressive attempt at domination, which is just as bad. Adapt your handshake to the person in front of you and situation, but make sure it’s always firm.
Getting too close. If you stand too close to someone (nearer than one and a half feet), it signals that you have no respect for or understanding of personal space. This will make people very uncomfortable when they’re around you.
It is important to bear these points in mind when you are going for an interview. It can make all the difference to the lasting impression you leave with a prospective employer.
Take a moment, as crazy as it may feel, to stand in front of the mirror and stand up straight pull your shoulders back and smile. then slouch and frown and tut at yourself with a roll of the eyes…
This little exercise will be a good reminder of how you can make the best personal impression when going for your next interview.