You’ve swotted up on the organisation, prepared detailed, compelling answers for those all-important questions, and planned some incisive questions of your own that are sure to seal the deal. But selling yourself at an interview doesn’t end with what you’re saying.
From the second you shake hands and sit down, your interviewer is likely to have formed an opinion based on body language alone. Though the content of your communication is important, it’s the non-verbal which could be the difference maker between you and your competition.
Things like intonation, speed of delivery, pauses and facial expressions can carry a lot of information about yourself, so it’s essential to keep these non-verbal features in mind during your interview. Here, we’ll delve further into how you can effectively use body language and non-verbal communication in a way to give you the edge at your next interview.
The importance of body language
Positive body language, while sometimes easier said than done, can separate ambitious, determined job-seekers from those who aren’t. It’s a vital part of the interview process that your interviewer will be well aware of during your time together.
Non-verbal communication helps to supplement your verbal communication, whether you’re answering a question, introducing yourself or any number of speech acts. Discrepancies between your body language and your speech will lead interviewers to reach certain conclusions, so it’s essential that there’s a synchronicity between the two.
Body language conveys information about the candidate’s emotions and attitudes too; if someone is blinking too much or tapping their feet, it’s likely a sign of their nervousness at the situation. Non-verbal cues also serve to control the flow of a conversation, ensuring that both candidate and interviewer don’t start speaking at the same time.
Why appearance matters
Non-verbal communication also encompasses how you look. The way you’re dressed, and how you present yourself, will also tell the interviewer plenty too. Inappropriate or sloppy-looking attire goes against the professional, confident manner you want to demonstrate, while too much perfume or a whiff of cigarette smoke are other red flags your interviewer may take note of.
Take pride in your appearance; something that exudes expertise and professionalism, that also makes you feel good, will be a natural confidence booster on the way to your interview. Allowing for plenty of travel time also ensures you won’t be rushing to get there; turning up looking dishevelled, sweaty and unkempt is never a good look.
Nailing the first impression
Even the way you greet the receptionist in the lobby can make an impact; you never know if the interviewer will ask them for more on your conduct before the interview. Be polite, introduce yourself and sit up straight while waiting. Rather than looking at your phone or listening to music, check over your interview preparation notes or any company materials in the lobby.
Upon meeting the interviewer, your first order of duty is getting the handshake right. A quick dash to the bathroom to wash your hands will save you the embarrassment of a sweaty palm, while a firm shake, rather than a bone-crushing grip, will put your first impression on the right track. A limp handshake can often imply awkwardness, uncertainty or nervousness too, not things you want to convey from the get-go.
Below, we share some other essential tips on how to nail non-verbal communication at your next job interview – from your initial meeting to your final goodbye.
After the interview
Before you leave, give the interviewer another firm handshake. Smile, thank them for their time and walk out confidently. Be sure to say goodbye to the receptionist or anyone else you spoke to on your way out, too.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that you made an excellent impression using non-verbal or body language-based cues.
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