You walk into a meeting room with an interviewer. From that moment, the person is unconsciously noticing the expression on your face, whether you are slouching or standing tall, what you are carrying in your hands and what you are wearing.
While we rarely consciously think about body language cues, we recognize when someone is demonstrating positive business etiquette, showing confidence or communicating weakness. Carrying yourself well in interviews, business presentations and other professional conversations gives you an advantage in how you are perceived.
The Handshake Is Your First and Last Impression
The first and last contact you have with an interviewer is the handshake. What you convey in that handshake is vital to creating a positive lasting impression. A handshake, when it is done well, conveys a sense of trust. A firm grip conveys confidence, while a weak handshake conveys weakness.
Ironically, a painfully firm grip conveys that you are compensating for a lack of confidence. Combine a firm handshake with a smile, and look directly into the other person’s eyes. Altogether, this gives a sense of a confident, likeable, trustworthy person.
Use Mirroring to Rapidly Create Rapport
Psychology tells us that we tend to like people who like us and share similar beliefs and attitudes. Two people who are sharing a similar emotion will tend to mirror each other’s gestures and postures. When you intentionally mirror the body language of the person you are talking to, you create an unconscious assumption in the other person that you agree with them and are “in sync” with what they are saying. This creates a positive feeling for you.
Another benefit is that the effect also works in reverse. When you mirror an interviewer, manager or colleague’s body language, you come to experience the same emotions he or she is experiencing, thus deepening the unconscious bond between you. If you both are seated, sit at a slight angle from the individual so you both aren’t directly facing each other, which can get uncomfortable. You’ll also want to make sure to situate yourself at a comfortable speaking distance from him or her.
The key to using mirroring in a professional conversation is to avoid crossing the line into mimicry. Your mirroring should be a sincere expression of the fact you are in agreement and share similar thoughts on a subject. When used well, mirroring rapidly creates a sense of rapport between you and an interviewer.
Hand Gestures Facilitate Convincing Speech
Many of us are prone to fidget when we’re nervous. We may play with our hair, click on a pen or crack our knuckles. Nervousness also shows in our speech with the “um’s” and “uh’s” we insert without thinking about them.
Incorporating hand gestures into your speech not only gives you something productive to do with your hands, but it also facilitates the area of the brain responsible for speech. This helps eliminate many of the empty filler words we say while searching for the right phrase to say.
Make sure your gestures aren’t wild. Keep your hands close to your body and don’t overuse them in conversation. When the other person is talking, place your hands flat on the desk or in your lap if you have a tendency to fidget.
Finally, don’t overuse gestures, or rely on them as a substitute for having something useful to say. In general, making positive use of body language opens up a new channel of communication to convey positive feelings, create rapport and build professional relationships.
Body Language Tips: What NOT to Do
Now that you have ideas on how to carry yourself in a business environment, please peruse the following infographic for body language habits to avoid in interviews and other professional conversations. The infographic comes courtesy of The Website Group and Swiss Canadian Capital.
That’s a great infographic! I can say that I’ve been guilty of the exaggerated hand motions, but I’m Italian and that just comes natural! I’ve always had the mindset to just be myself during an interview.
I know I have a problem with eye contact…not just at work but in my personal life as well. Must work on! But all the other suggestions are so spot on.. The scowling tends to cause defensive attitudes when not needed. That is always a hard one to get past. Thanks for sharing an awesome post with a topic that needs to be addressed with all companies.
Thanks for reading! Hope it helps in future situations!
I always hate shaking people’s hands because I am so sweaty! What should I do in that type of situation? Being nervous makes me sweat even more and I don’t want to be rude about it. Usually I just make a joke about it.
Hard to say…maybe just wipe your palm on the side of your pants right before shaking hands. Or maybe take more preventative measures before you meet up with someone: Try meditation, music that soothes or pumps you up, or any activity that takes some of the anxiety away before going into your meeting. Thanks for reading, btw!
Body language is so important. I have spent hours preparing for interviews because if I am too nervous, my body language will 100% give it away. On the flip side, I’ve conducted interviews before where the candidate was TOO relaxed – feet on the chair, leaning back, looking very casual. It definitely did not give me a good impression of them. I think a happy medium is to act confidently, and not too cocky.
Hard to be somewhere in the middle, right? Most employers would probably understand that interviewees will have some degree of nerves in an interview. They still have to answer the questions though!
Ten years ago I did an interview with a guy who came in with a soda and belched really loudly and laughed about it a couple times. He commented that he was glad I’m cool and made him feel relaxed. I learned my lesson to never interview wearing a Marvel T shirt because I’m not representing myself in those instances but the whole company. I try to wear one of our company logo shirts or a button up and not be so casual during those nowadays.
Being in a interview does not mean only answering questions correctly but also to focus on some other things include ‘body language.
If your body gestures are not assertive then it will add as a bad impression about you. You have shared a great tips here for all candidates and will be helpful for them i am sure. Thanks!
We definitely agree! It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Thank you for your input and for visiting our blog!
Nice article..Very impressive to know about the body languages along with your interview presentation..
Thanks for posting..!!
Thank you for reading, Kiran! Have you read our mindfulness tips for the workplace? Start here: https://www.eminentseo.com/blog/10-tips-mindfulness-in-the-workplace/
This site certainly has all the information and facts I wanted
concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
We are glad to help! Thank you for reading!