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In today’s difficult job market, finding a job can be incredibly challenging. In order to be successful, you will need an excellent resume (take a look at 5 Steps to a Great Resume), great interview skills, applicable experience, good networking skills, and a decent amount of luck. With so many qualified candidates out there, only those who are “first to market” with a great resume are likely to be called for an interview.
After lots of hard work, you finally get an interview. There are many things that can go wrong, but if you prepare correctly there are lots that can (and will) go right. While you need to get all of the words right (questions you will be asked and questions you will ask), body language plays a key role in how you are perceived by the hiring manager and whether or not you will make it to the next round. To help you get a handle on what is not an exact science, we’ve included a list of body language tips and advice.
Maintain Eye Contact
No employer wants to see a job applicant who spends the whole interview staring down at the table. Few applicants, however, are comfortable making constant and unwavering eye contact with the interviewer. What to do? Practice making semi-eye contact. This means looking above the interviewer’s eyes – at their forehead or their hair, for example – while you talk.
You’ll come across as engaged without getting distracted by the intensity or the awkwardness of direct eye contact. Practice this with friends and family. Conduct a mock interview and then have them evaluate your eye contact.
Lean Forward and Back in Your Seat As Necessary
Generally speaking, leaning forward in your seat is one of the better ways of conveying an engaged, go-getter attitude. But doing this for the duration of the interview may instead make you seem more anxious and more on edge. The goal then is to find a compromise between leaning forward in your seat and leaning back, with a greater amount of time to be spent in the former position. Here’s an idea: when you’re speaking or answering a query during the interview, lean forward and look engaged. When you’re listening to a question or a response, lean back and look thoughtful. When done correctly — and with gradual transitions — this approach can offer the best of both worlds.
This goes without saying, but it is distracting and unappealing to an interviewer when an applicant fidgets throughout the meeting. Make sure to practice sitting still and comfortably without making too many body movements. Furthermore, unless you are a person who can successfully speak with their hands while talking, you may want to consider clasping your hands under the table for much of the interview.
Don’t Fold Your Arms
Sometimes you just don’t know what to do with your hands and arms. Folding them across your chest
These are just a few tips for improving your body language during a job interview. Although mastering this advice certainly can’t make up for a lack of experience or a competitive hiring process, every little component of the application matters in today’s market. Body language, to be sure, is no exception.