What candidates do in a job interview is often more important than what they say. It’s important to be aware of your body language—even if the interviewer isn’t conscious of it, she is making constant judgments about your attitude and personality as conveyed by your posture, your eye contact and even your hand gestures. In fact, she’s already assessing you before you even open your mouth to say hello.
Here are nine simple things to be cognizant of while you interview to make sure you’re perceived as confident, enthusiastic, and reliable.
#1: Eye contact
Simply hold the interviewer’s gaze for a few seconds at a time. If there are multiple people in the interview, address the person who asked the question first, then look at each person for a moment or two before finishing with the questioner as you conclude your response.
#2: Sit up straight
Don’t slouch or seem too relaxed! Sit up straight and lean slightly forward. Show you’re curious and fully engaged in the dialogue.
#3: Use your hands
Be subtle with your hands—too much motion can seem overly aggressive or fidgety. Keep in mind that open palms convey openness and honesty. Avoid rubbing your neck or head as this can hint that you’re bored or uninterested. Don’t cross your arms or you’ll seem defensive or unapproachable. If you’re worried about what to do with your hands, bring a pen and paper to take occasional notes.
#4: Smile and nod
Follow the lead of the interviewer—smile when she does and laugh when appropriate. You want to convey that you have personality and you’re not too timid. Nodding shows you’re paying attention.
#5: Don’t fidget
Fidgeting can convey you’re bored or impatient. Keep both feet flat on the floor to help you sit up straight.
#6: Mirror your interviewer
Follow her cues and mirror her positive body language. Make her feel like the smartest, most fascinating person. Match her handshake—it’s best to aim for middle ground here. Too strong can seem arrogant and too limp can seem weak.
#7: Be positive
Avoid any negative sentiments or expressions! Don’t roll your eyes or gesture dismissively, especially when talking about your past employer—even for a boss you didn’t like!
And stay neutral when discussing sensitive or controversial topics. You want to come across as mature and diplomatic.
#8: Don’t be defensive
Don’t take questions personally. Remember the interviewer is probably looking for your flaws and weaknesses, so if she hits on one, be calm and answer honestly and positively. Any sudden shifts in your demeanor—drop in eye contact or sudden negative tone—might seem like a red flag to your interviewer.
#9: Don’t be aggressive
Yes, be confident and enthusiastic! But don’t interrupt or overpower your potential employer. You don’t want to seem rude or threatening. Practicing for the interview on video can be extremely useful.