Body Language Don’ts – What You Should Not Do In An Interview
You’re getting ready for the big interview: you start learning about the company, its mission and values; you practice your pitch of “why you should hire me”; you work on questions you believe you will be asked. But there is a major area that cannot be ignored – your silent communication, your body language. This can tell a lot about what you are thinking and feeling, and it cues your interviewer regarding your take on something.
Body language is just as important as your pitch. Let’s look at some ways you can give the right cues and avoid the body language don’ts – what you should not do in an interview. Let’s look at some of the main faux pas and what you can do to avoid them.
Watch Your Posture
As you dive into silent communication, one of the major blunders is posture. Imagine you are in the interviewer’s office and you are leaning back in the chair or slouching; this could really give the wrong impression and could be interpreted in several different ways. It could mean you are arrogant, you’re lazy or you don’t really care, or you are not taking it seriously. This is not the message that you want to portray to the interviewer. Instead of slouching, try to sit tall in the chair and in a neutral position. This posture is non-aggressive and doesn’t portray laziness. This is the way to go. Sit up straight in your next interview.
Breaking Eye Contact
The typical interview will have a lot of back and forth talk: questions will be asked, you will respond, and you will then ask your own set of questions. One thing though, where should your eyes be? Make sure to look the interviewer in the eyes. You don’t need to stare, but you do need to hold the glance for a quick second or two. Additionally, when you first meet the person or give a leaving handshake, make sure to hold eye contact for a couple seconds. Don’t break the connection. In America, if you do not look the person in their eyes during a handshake, greeting, or even during an interview, you might come across as someone who cannot be trusted – someone shifty or even unconfident. Next time you are in a meeting with someone or you are meeting a teacher or some other person, watch yourself how you react in this situation. Police yourself and try to be more self-conscious to avoid this body language don’ts.
Pointing Your Fingers
You can point to a diagram or other things but avoid pointing at other people. This can be understood as aggressive and you don’t want to create this perception.
Another unconscious move is crossing your arms. In some cases, you are cold, so it is understandable. At an interview, crossing your arms makes you seem defensive and resistant. It makes you seem like you are not open to new ideas or listening to the person. Try to put your arms by your side, on the chair arms, or even on the table, just make sure you don’t lean in too close as this will signal something else.
Nodding Too Much
Most people tend to nod when they agree with something or when they disagree. Someone’s take on a matter is normally clear. However, do not nod too much. Excessive nodding makes you look stupid, like one of those bobble head dolls in cars which never stop nodding. You don’t want to be remembered by the interviewer because you couldn’t stop nodding. So, nod once or twice to agree with statements.
Another body language faux pas is fidgeting – constantly moving because you are nervous. It could be something like grabbing a piece of your shirt and twisting it, twirling your hair, scratching the back of your head, grabbing a pen and pencil and constantly moving it, or even biting your nails. Yeah, I know interviews can be tense, but you have got to be aware of this. Next time you are at someone’s presentation, watch how the person conducts his speech. Does he fidget? When you give a presentation, talk, or even a phone call interview, have someone record it with their phone. It is important to see what you do in these situations. From all the interviews I have conducted and ones that I have been In, I can honestly say that fidgeting is one of the main triggers to a negative impression.
Where Are Your Hands?
During the interview, your hands should be visible, preferably on the chair’s arms and still. If your hands are behind you or are in your pockets, it makes one wonder, “What are you hiding?” You don’t want to look sneaky. Hidden hands can also be interpreted to mean you are a closed person, not approachable. Let’s keep it friendly and keep the interviewer’s mind on the interview rather than interpreting this distracting body language.
Watch The Facial Expressions You Use
The look on your face affects the perceived truthfulness of your words. Suppose you are talking about a tough time in your professional experience, but you are talking about it with a smile or in a joking way. Or you are talking about a great accomplishment of yours but with no enthusiasm or even a sad look. These are body language cues that give the wrong message to the interviewer. Make sure your expressions match your words.
Body language and non-verbal cues are part of business and everything you do. Be cognizant of the message you are giving; avoid at all costs these body language don’ts and try to deliver the right message.
If you have a friend, colleague or someone you know who constantly gives the wrong message, share this article and video with them.
For more articles on job search and interview tips, check out the CareerPrep blog and for new videos, check out the CareerPrep and English Interviews Youtube channels.