There is value in the details. Managers are often incredibly busy, which can make for shorter interviews. Therefore importance may be placed on maximizing the time available and attention paid to the more subtle points of job interviews; such as the body language messages you are sending.
Body language can speak louder than words and is critically important. Most people are aware of the basics: importance of a firm handshake, maintaining good eye contact and practicing good posture. But think about what is being communicated by subtle movements, gestures, looks and actions under the total body language “umbrella.” Body language includes actions such as:
- movement of head, facial expressions (e.g., movement of eyebrows, eyes, nose, etc.)
- body posture (i.e., the way body is placed, including arms and legs, in relation to each other, and in relation to other people)
- body proximity, shoulder movement, hand and finger gestures, handling and placement of objects (e.g., pens, papers, etc).
- Body language movements that telegraph intent, such as gestures (e.g., the particular way a hand is shaken, or someone winking after a particular comment), and vocal cues, including: pitch of voice, volume (e.g., shouting, whispering, etc).
- Nonverbal cues can say a lot about personality and interest in the open job. Seemingly small movements can send un-intended messages. Examples include: crossing arms (closed; keeps people at bay), over-reacting (nodding hurriedly, insincere, unprofessional), tense facial expressions (nervous, control-oriented, or angry). It is normal to be nervous, and some tension is to be expected. Take a few long, slow breaths to calm down.
Many hiring managers say they can often tell if someone is the right fit for his or her organization just minutes after the handshake. In a recent Robert Half survey, executives said they typically form an opinion of a candidate within the first ten minutes of an employment interview. With such a short amount of time to interact with a hiring manager, what can the candidate do to achieve a positive response?
The most important body language cue to me is remembering to smile. I know for some people this may be painful, but a ready smile says you are confidant and positive. Being positive goes a long way toward convincing the interviewer that you’re right for the job. Consider whether you’re making any common nervous mistakes (e.g., such as rushing your responses or not listening to the full questions), and adjust your communications as necessary. Many employers want positive people. They are nice to work with and customers appreciate them. A smile says you are that person.
While prepping for your next interview, remember to spend some time in front of a mirror, or better yet, video yourself. Talk through answers to commonly asked interview questions and watch for messages your body language may send. If you see anything negative or weak, take action to correct.