Body language can be an immensely powerful persuasive tool. It forms the heart of many actors’ skill sets, helping them convince the audience that they are whoever they’re pretending to be and guiding our thoughts in a subtle and unconscious way. It should also be at the heart of your job-interview arsenal. Make sure your body language works for, and not against, you by avoiding these faux pas:
Employers report bad posture as one of the most common mistakes job seekers make, and bad posture can take a number of forms. Leaning back may make you come off as arrogant, while leaning forward might make you appear aggressive. Aim to sit straight up and down to avoid giving your interviewer a negative impression.
Fidgeting can take a number of forms as well. Don’t wiggle around in your seat, and don’t succumb to the temptation to fiddle with an object. If you want to take the interview strategy of carrying a talisman with you to remind you why you should feel confident, make sure it’s something you can connect to without playing with it directly.
Gesturing too much
You don’t need to worry about the occasional hand gesture, but too much gesturing can be distracting and make it harder for the hiring manager to focus on your message. Gestures like pointing or chopping in the space between you and the interviewer can be particularly bad, as they can appear aggressive.
Looking away too soon
Holding eye contact can be uncomfortable, but it can also work in your favor. Try to stretch eye contact just a little longer than you normally would, particularly when shaking hands.
Failing to match tone and expression
It’s important that your facial expressions match the words you’re using. If you want to show excitement or passion, you won’t get very far if your face is dead serious. And if you’re being serious, wearing a broad smile is going to send mixed messages.