Have you ever gone to a job interview fully confident that you would ace it, only to find out a few days later that you didn't get the job? It's frustrating - you spend hours researching the company and industry, preparing answers to every possible interview question, brushing up on technical skills and everything else imaginable. Then, after what you felt was a great interview, it turns out you came up short despite your best efforts.
In some cases, it may not be what you said that lost you the opportunity, but what you did. For years, researchers in a variety of fields have established the importance of body language in communication. Body language, or non-verbal communication, is often considered more important in conversation than spoken language.
"There's an old adage that communication is 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. If you're not projecting confidence and competence through your body language, the interviewer may not feel that you're the right fit for the position," says Amanda Haddaway, director of human resources for Folcomer Equipment Corporation in an interview with CBS.
Based on this knowledge, it's easy to see how your body language can be the difference between success and failure when interviewing for a new position. Here are four tips to help you use body language to portray yourself in the best light possible during a job interview.
As children, everyone had parents, teachers or other adult figures tell them to sit up straight. While this might have annoyed you as a child, this is actually great body language advice for a job interview. CBS News reported that slouching or slumping over in your seat portrays an air of indifference, either toward yourself or your situation.
This is a fatal mistake in an interview. You could give the perfect answer to every question, but it won't matter if you look like you don't care about what you're doing. The best candidates will come with an air of enthusiasm and energy in addition to a solid resume. Most employers know that they can teach a new employee specific skills. They can't teach enthusiasm. Use your good posture to convey a strong desire to join the team and project your confidence about your abilities.
Making eye contact is a well-known way to portray confidence as well engagement in what someone is saying. It is also a great way to develop a more personal rapport and connection with the interviewer. But it's not as simple as just looking at the interviewer's eyes.
One of the main ways eye contact can go wrong is if you come on too strong with it. As Mashable noted, you don't want to lock on to the interviewer's eyes or face. The point of eye contact is to increase comfort and trust between the participants in the conversation. It's hard for anyone to feel comfortable when someone is staring at them.
To this point, while looking the interviewer in the eye is a good start, remember that good eye contact is about more than that. Sometimes looking away at key points in the conversation can show thoughtfulness and introspection, as well as provide a need respite to avoid discomfort.
Your hands are some of your most powerful tools when it comes to portraying the best side of you during a job interview.
Mashable noted that using hand gestures when you're talking about something can be a powerful way to demonstrate enthusiasm. But even more important, it can develop a sense of trust between you and your interviewer. People who hide their hands are subconsciously perceived as being untrustworthy, or as having something to hide.
Many interviews take place at a table or desk. Keep your hands on the desk and don't lock them together. Just as with the hand gestures, openly showing your hands signals honesty and engagement.
You may think that because your feet and legs are concealed below a desk that you don't have to worry about them. On the contrary, your lower body does matter when trying to project positive qualities through body language.
Many people have a habit of fidgeting with their legs after they've been sitting for too long. Unfortunately, restless legs often signal to others that you're either bored or getting nervous. Keep your feet planted on the ground and don't allow them to jump around.
Body language is all about portraying your intangible qualities - confidence, trustworthiness, honesty, etc - without having to come out and say it. Mastering these tips will go a long way to bringing out the best possible candidate in you.