KAMPALA – When preparing for an interview, body language is often overlooked. You might talk a big game, but your body language might hold you back from getting that job. Here are seven common body language mistakes you should avoid during a job interview.
Human communication has very little to do with what you say and more to do with what you do. The most overlooked part of human communication is body language. Your body language speaks volumes about your intentions and abilities and shows a deeper side of you that most people hide. This alternative communication is what the hiring manager will examine.
Job seekers naturally concentrate on their resume, cover letter, and interview questions, which is a good strategy. However, the hiring manager can overlook your qualifications, resume, and connections because of common body language mistakes. So, how do you control your body during a job interview? The first step is to understand what body language is.
What is body language?
There are different levels of human communication. The most common is speaking. However, when speaking, other forms of communication happen. Some people use their hands to demonstrate and explain whatever they are saying. Others use their eyes and facial expressions. All this is part of body language. So, how can your body language be a mistake? Your body language can be a mistake when it sends signals that communicate something that contradicts whatever you are saying.
Luckily, you can work on your body language mistakes by:
- Identifying the mistake
- Identifying what triggers this mistake; and
- Finding ways of managing the mistake
Below are seven body language mistakes that people make during interviews and tips on how to control them.
A common mistake is walking into the hiring manager’s office and failing to smile. If you do not smile, the hiring manager will assume that you are not happy to be there. It also speaks volumes about your trustworthiness and approachability, which are good qualities when meeting clients. It is natural not to smile or laugh when nervous or anxious. The best way to manage this common body language mistake is to practice answering interview questions while smiling. Keep reminding yourself to smile throughout the interview. Smiling will make you look like an enthusiastic job seeker about to interview for a role.
Not maintaining eye contact
Do you look around the room when you speak or listen? You appear distracted or apprehensive when you dart your eyes around the room when someone is talking or when you are speaking. Maintaining eye contact with your interviewer will create a good rapport that will make you seem competent and confident. If you struggle with this common body language mistake, you can practice answering interview questions with your friend. Your friend should tell you when you are not making eye contact and identify what triggers you. Alternatively, if you don’t want to practice with a friend, you could stand before a mirror and practice. This way, you can gain confidence and pick out any other body language mistakes.
Slumping in your chair makes it seem like you have low energy for the interview. Moreover, it makes you seem unprepared and unable to handle interview questions, which is not the message you want to send to the recruiter. Posture speaks volumes about your confidence, whether you are sitting or standing. Practice before a mirror by pushing your shoulders up and keeping your chin up. Alternatively, practice good sitting posture by imagining that a string tied to the ceiling from the top of your head is holding you up. Practice interview questions while maintaining this posture.
Crossing your arms across your chest
Crossing your arms gives the impression that you are reserved, insecure, uncomfortable, and defensive, which are negative traits you should not exhibit in an interview. These traits go against everything the hiring manager is looking for in a job candidate. Managing your posture will help you manage the urge to cross your arms. Maintain a good posture by placing your hands on your laps or sides to help you keep this body language mistake in check. When you do find yourself crossing your arms subconsciously, put them down and try to apply pressure to your legs. This tip will help you remember to keep your arms uncrossed.
Wild arm or hand movement
The anxiety and excitement that boils up before and during an interview can trigger wild gesturing. Try to control your enthusiasm by practicing breathing exercises before the interview to calm down. The use of hand gestures is effective and powerful for job interviews when done right. Wild gestures are distracting and thus a body language mistake. The time allocated to each job seeker is limited, so make good use of the little time you have during the interview. Distracting gestures will make you memorable for the wrong reasons. Look into which hand gestures can positively affect your interview performance.
Failing to greet the interviewer
When you walk into the interview, the first thing you should do is to say hi. Greeting the interviewer should be your first step to making a first impression. You might not get to shake their hand due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the least you could do is to greet the interviewer. If you shake their hand, make sure that the handshake is palm-to-palm and firm. You also might want to say a welcoming statement afterward, such as “I am looking forward to having this interview” or “It is nice to meet you.” Greetings will help you be memorable, exude confidence, and make the interview kick-off in a good mood.
During the interview, pay attention to your legs and fingers. Do you tend to play with your fingers or other objects when you get nervous? Fidgeting is a sign of impatience or boredom. You will come off like you have something better to do than the interview. Fortunately, managing this body language mistake is easy. If you tend to fidget with objects, avoid carrying them to the interview. Avoid watches, bracelets, pens, or other objects that might trigger your fidgeting. Alternatively, you could press the tips of your fingers together during the interview to help you remember not to fidget. It will make you aware of your movements. These nervous movements are not limited to your fingers. Some people bounce their legs or play with their hair, which is also distracting. Try to answer interview questions before a mirror to help you pick out these minor body language mistakes since the first step to managing them is to be aware.
Managing body language mistakes is a crucial part of preparing for an interview. The hiring manager can get the wrong message during the interview if you don’t control your body language. Be aware of what your body communicates during the interview by practicing in front of a mirror. Ask your family or friends to help you prepare for a job interview by letting them point out these body language mistakes and giving you tips on managing them during the interview. Don’t forget about your body language, as you prepare your resume, cover letter, and industry knowledge. Most importantly, have fun!
Written by Lilian Nerima Musonge, a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life