Body language: interview do’s and don’ts

It can take anywhere between five and 30 seconds for a person to form an opinion of you. When you’ve only got a short time to sell yourself, this can be the deciding factor in whether you get the job.
The old adage that ‘actions speak louder than words’ may seem cliché, but when more than 60% of first impressions are formed by body language, it still rings true.

Body language: interview do’s:
1. Walk in confidently – Look as professional as possible from the outset. As soon as you walk into the building you’ll begin to be judged on your behaviour. 2. Deliver a firm handshake – Keep it firm, but try not to crush their fingers. Remember to let go. 3. Sit up straight – Avoid being too stiff, but try to sit up straight, keeping the small of your back against the chair. Keep your legs straight and as still as possible. It’s ok to lean forward slightly every so often, as it shows the interviewer that you’re listening, but don’t overdo it. 4. Keep eye contact – Maintaining eye contact shows the interviewer you’re not intimidated, and that you’re taking everything in. If you feel uncomfortable, look away for a few seconds or try looking at their nose. Around 10 seconds of good eye contact at a time is a good guideline. 5. Smile – Recruiters seldom employ miserable people. It’s ok to be nervous, but a smile can go a long way. It makes you look more relaxed, comfortable and personable. To put it simply, it will make you more likeable. Other things to do: turn your phone off, keep your head up, keep your feet still.

Body language: interview don’ts:
1. Be arrogant – Walking into an interview thinking that you’ve already got the job can be detrimental. Remember: arrogance and confidence is not the same thing.
2. Offer a weak handshake – A weak handshake not only indicates a lack of confidence, it can also be very awkward. Try and mirror your interviewer’s handshake, and apply the same amount of pressure. N.B. It is never acceptable to high-five.
3. Slouch – Bad posture can make you look bored and uninterested. The same goes for crossing your arms and legs, this can often be seen negatively. Effectively, you are closing yourself off from the situation.
4. Stare – It’s always important to maintain eye contact, but there’s definitely a limit. Don’t make it too intense. There’s a fine line between being attentive and being frightening. Remember to blink.
5. Play with your pen/hair – It seems so obvious, but as with most body language, you often don’t know you’re doing it. Be aware of any bad habits you have before your interview, and if you’re not aware of any, try asking a few (good) friends. Just try not to take it personally…
6. Fidget – Try to avoid moving around too much. Nervously moving your feet or constantly changing position will only make you look awkward and uncomfortable.

Other things not to do: chew gum, keep your hands in your pockets, zone out, tap your finger, tap your pen, go in for a hug.

Remember: recruiters will only see how you behave; they won’t see how you’re feeling. By getting an interview, the prospective employer already thinks you can do the job on paper. Now it’s up to you to show your confidence and use body language to your advantage.