Your Body Language Can Make or Break Your Job Interview

Althea sat in the corner of the waiting area for her turn with the interviewer. Clutching her bag against her chest, she was too nervous to remember the notes she studied the night before. Althea has a habit of tapping her left foot restlessly whenever she’s in a tough situation. Today, “nervous” is a mild adjective to describe her. Her nerves got the better of her that she practically blew her job interview.

Nervousness and anxiousness are normal during job interviews. These are natural biological responses. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to bite your nails in between interview questions. Your body language can make or break your job interview.

Here are 8 reasons why body language matters during your job interview.

First impressions are hard to change

Photo Courtesy of COD Newsroom via Flickr, Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of COD Newsroom via Flickr, Creative Commons

It only takes a few seconds to create an impression on someone. If you walk into a room with your back in an awkward and drooping posture, you exude fatigue, fear or disinterest. Two recentstudies suggest that first impressions stick to people’s minds. Dr. Vivian Zayas, a psychologist at Cornell University, said: “Despite the well-known idiom to ‘not judge a book by its cover’, the present research shows that such judgments about the cover are good proxies for judgments about the book—even after reading it.”

Slouching can make you feel sad and afraid

Photo Courtesy of gratisography.com via Pexels

Photo Courtesy of gratisography.com via Pexels

One of the call center interview tips you may haven’t heard of is to sit up straight while waiting for your interviewer. In a study in New Zealand, researchers asked 74 people to sit either in a slumped or straightened posture. The findings published in Health Psychology showed that “the upright participants reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong.” Those who slouched confessed feeling “more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish.”

Proper body posture can reduce anxiety

Photo Courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

Photo Courtesy of unsplash.com via Pexels

People normally experience job interview anxiety. There are many ways of putting this under control such as skipping caffeine and preparing well. Another easy hack is to keep your back straight when you sit or stand. One manifestation of anxiousness is rapid and shallow breathing. This can lead to heart palpitations and panic. When you sit, stand or walk in a straightened posture, the airways in your lungs open up, improving circulation and supplying oxygen to your nervous system.

The way you sit can influence your interview performance

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Photo Courtesy of startuptockphotos.com via Pexels

Do you know that keeping your back straight before and during your job interview can have an impact on how you respond to your interviewer? A team of American and Spanish researchers suggested a relationship between metacognition, or the way we think about our thoughts and beliefs, and body posture. If you sit up with a straight back and your chest pushed out, you can feel more confident and hold more positive attitudes. This “confident posture” can be instrumental in giving the best impression to your interviewer.

Go for a neutral position

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Hurst via Flickr, Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Hurst via Flickr, Creative Commons

Proper posture during interview not only helps you manage interview anxiety, it also sends the right message to your future employer. According to experts, leaning back on your chair can make you appear arrogant and leaning forward too aggressive. The best way to go is to sit tall with your head connecting to the ceiling. This will give you an air of professionalism and help your body relax during tense situations.

Know when to make eye contact

Photo Courtesy of Polpolux via Flickr, Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Polpolux via Flickr, Creative Commons

The right body language to have during interviews may depend on various factors, one of which is the culture observed in the company. A recent study led by researchers at the University of Tokyo noted that eye contact behaviors send different messages in different cultures. The findings showed that Asians, especially East Asians, “perceive another’s face as being angrier, unapproachable, and unpleasant when making eye contact.” Interestingly, Westerners including the British and the Italians uphold an unwritten law during conversations: look the other person in the eye. This is believed to signal connection, understanding, and interest. Companies offering call center jobs are usually of mixed cultures. You may be working in a Western-style office environment with Asian supervisors and colleagues. One expert suggested trying to hold your interviewer’s gaze for one extra second before breaking the eye contact.

Keep your hands at your sides

Photo Courtesy of StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay

When you’re nervous, you tend to do gestures, make sounds (like near-choking sound while talking), and say inappropriate things. This is why it’s very important to keep your nerves in check. The right body language during interviews is the one that gives an impression that you’re in total control (even if you feel like melting in your seat). While talking to your interviewer, keep your hands at your sides, but don’t leave them immovable. You wouldn’t want to look stiff. Communications expert Karen Friedman advises against crossing your arms over your chest as this can “signal defensiveness and resistance.”

The body language that will get you the job!

Photo Courtesy of jarmoluk via Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of jarmoluk via Pixabay

Although call centers are generally hiring candidates with no work experience, this doesn’t mean that you’re fail-proof. The very purpose of a job application process is to choose the best candidate among thousands of aspirants with or without professional background. Here’s a quick list of the posture, gestures, and other forms of body language that you should keep in mind when prepping for your job interview.

  • Avoid chopping and pointing gestures
  • Place your hand in front of you and gesture naturally
  • Don’t play with your hair, fingernails or jewelry
  • Avoid staring, which can suggest aggressiveness (or even creepiness)
  • Don’t avoid all eye contact, which can be interpreted as disengagement
  • Give a firm handshake after the interview
  • Make and hold eye contact to punctuate your handshake

Your job interview is the most crucial part of the job application process. This can make or break the deal for you. If you have high anxiety levels, you better start finding ways to manage the tension. Exercise, sleep well, and skip coffee at least hours before your interview. Keep a good posture and finally, remember to breathe deeply.

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