Some 90 percent of our communication is nonverbal, according to body language expert and jury consultant Susan Constantine. Given that statistic, it's a good idea to think about body language before you head in for your next job interview.
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"Most people are not cognizant of their own body language, of the nonverbal signals we send to others," Constantine says. "Nonverbal signals are sent all the time and can make or break (a job interview)."
Constantine shares some tips for good body language:
1. Firm handshake. With most things, moderation is key. This goes for your handshake when first greeting an interviewer. Don't grasp too hard and pump too vigorously. But don't offer up an anemic handshake, either. Aim for the middle of the road, Constantine says, with a firm, confident handshake.
2. Positive mindset. "Feel joy to meet [the interviewer]," Constantine says, "put yourself in a place of fun, saying, 'I'm having fun and my body language will follow. I'm going to nail this job.' Don't roll your eyes around the room, be very present with [the interviewer]—the 'be there now' rule."
3. Eye contact. Good eye contact is also crucial to creating a connection with an interviewer. Constantine suggests using a "professional gaze"—looking at the interviewer 80 percent of the time and looking off to the side 20 percent of the time. Also, Constantine says, "Have a genuine, warm smile but not a phony smile."
4. Don't be cross. Crossing your arms is a sign of weakness, Constantine says. "Your arms should be totally to your side and your hands should be more mobile."
5. Go hands-free. Avoid holding onto a briefcase, purse or other large item during the interview—as far as nonverbal communication goes, having something in your hands is the equivalent of speaking with your mouth full.
"Hands literally fill in the blank for you and it's important to use your hands as punctuation," Constantine says, "but never use choppy hand gestures. Keep your hands controlled and away from your face. Placing your hands between your hips and your shoulders will make you look more confident."
6. No fidgeting. Don't display your nervousness by twirling your hair or adjusting your tie during an interview. And keep your hands away from your face. "We're usually very nervous during an interview," Constantine says, "but hands near the face is unacceptable."
7. Mirror body language. Look to the interviewer for body language cues. "Once the interviewer moves his or her hands on the desk, you may want to close your hand over the other on the desk, not mimicking exactly, but doing something similar," Constantine says. "You should tilt your head in a listening position, which shows you’re interested. Also, lean from the waist, not from the shoulders."
Just knowing these body language basics is only half of it, Constantine says. Try to practice them in your day-to-day interactions so they become second nature.
"You can apply (these things) toward anything in your life, not just a job interview,” she says. "The better you do it in everyday life, the better you do it during an interview."
Luke Roney is content manager for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information and a free career happiness assessment.