What you say is only the half of it.
In the cutthroat world of today’s workforce, people will do anything to score that promotion, that benefit, that paid holiday, whatever. However, usually the most difficult aspect of achieving your career goals is actually getting your foot in the door. And with most candidates having at least a few degrees tucked under their belts, attending a job interview can often seem like entering the lottery.
However according to body language expert Dr. Louise Mahler, the interviewees that come out on top typically use a trick most of us aren’t even aware of; manipulating their body language to their advantage.
Body language is so powerful, one of the most prominent communication studies conducted to date, a 1967 paper by researcher Albert Mehrabian, found that non-verbal messages account for 93 per cent of how a person receives us, while the actual words we say make up just seven per cent. So if you’re not already adept at the art of positive body language, here are eight simple body language hacks you can use in your next interview to score that job…
1. Don’t tilt your head backwards
According to Mahler, tilting your head either forward or backwards indicates one of two things.
“Nodding the head forwards sends messages of flexibility of the mind, but any tilt backwards is a problem. The problem is, in non-verbal terms, the indication you give other people is always that a tilt backwards is arrogance.”
2. Keep a wide stance
Keeping your feet firm and wide is not just for cowboys, or potential beaus trying to make an impression, it can score you serious kudos in a job interview, too.
“Certainly, feet together makes you a ‘pushover’. When you are literally a pushover, you are figuratively a pushover, so you need to be balanced,” Mahler explains.
“Too wide, however, sends psychological messages of the display of genital parts and never a good idea. A good balanced stance is with the feet shoulder distance apart. Keep one toe on the ground and turn your heel to the other foot. The length of your foot is about right.”
3. Have a firm handshake
Your careers adviser was right when she said a firm handshake helps you to be taken seriously in the world of business. However, there are different kinds of ‘firmness’ that contribute to its effectiveness.
“Firm is good. The issue is where the firmness comes from. Many people think the firmness is in the ‘grip’. It is not. The firmness is in the ‘slot’. Like a sword thrust, the firmness of a handshake is int he strength of your thrust,” says Mahler.
“Do not swing your arm out and in. That is too powerful and aggressive.”
4. Point your feet towards the person you’re talking to
“If your feet are facing away, it perhaps says you want to ‘run’,” Mahler explains.
“However, you don’t have to be too pedantic about it. Just don’t have them turning away. When in a large group, the feet should be parallel.”
So to appear engaged, confident, and keen as beans, pay attention to what your feet are doing.
5. Beware of ‘steepling’ your fingers
Resting your fingertips together like a church steeple can be either positive or counterproductive, depending on how you use it.
“Steepling fingers is a prayer and submissive position, that may be a useful option at some stages. This is not a hand position I recommend as position for listening or ‘rest’,” advises Mahler.
Nobody wants to look like they’re passive or confidence-lacking in a job interview, so save this gesture for when you have the job and want to appear attentive and interested when listening to the new boss.
Mirroring body language is a way to bond and to build understanding, and is a particularly useful tool in gaining trust.
“Communication is like driving a car. There are different gears. You need a ‘neutral’ approach, which is first gear, until you can read what is going on. Mirroring is second gear. Mirroring of the body posture and the extremiteis; the legs, the gestures the head, is a good way to start. Then you can mirror the breathing pattern and the vocal pitch and rhythm. Mirroring is super important to help people feel comfortable,” says Mahler.
“You can test for comfort by changing your position. Perhaps uncross a leg and see if they are now following you. If they do, you are now leading. Once you are leading, then take control!”
7. Read a newspaper while you’re waiting
It’s all very well to nail your body language while you’re being interviewed, but how you present in the waiting room is also important. Sitting hunched over your smartphone on Facebook makes you appear smaller, more submissive, and less confident, so grab a magazine or newspaper off the waiting room coffee table and flip through it. It will force you to sit back and make you look more relaxed when your interviewer comes out to get you.
8. Practice good posture
Good posture is a simple yet effective way to appear calm, confident, and in the moment, all key ingredients for nailing that job. Try standing with your stomach in, chest out, shoulders back, and head up. This implies you’re poised and ready to take on whatever your interviewer throws at you, even if you’re secretly dying of nerves.
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