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Body Language - It's Not Only What You Say That's Important!
Don't slouch at an Interview
A UCLA study indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicates that the impact of a performance was determined as follows; 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by nonverbal communication. What this means is your actions are far more important than you probably ever thought. I have written articles on many of these nonverbal cues, but it’s certainly worth going into more depth on them.
Your handshake is the first physical contact made, therefore it's the strongest first impression we make with another person. When the interviewer extends their hand they are looking for a firm and solid handshake. When you take their hand give them what they're looking for, a solid and firm handshake, don’t give them a weak, limp hand, and certainly don’t crush their hand.
Your posture is the next thing to look at. When standing, stand up straight, (I don’t mean that you have to stand at attention) but don’t slouch, don’t lean against the wall, sit on the desk or other furniture. When sitting in a chair sit up, don’t lean back or slouch over, be attentive and show interest in what is being said.
Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with the interviewer, but don’t stare at the person. You can glance at the interviewer’s hands or at their desk. If you are talking about your resume or performance reviews or some other written material don’t be afraid to look at it, but come back to direct eye contact. If there is a second interviewer be sure to make eye contact with them also, especially when they are speaking. Do not allow your eyes to roam around the room, and don’t stare at your hands. This shows a lack of confidence and concentration, as well as showing a disregard for what is being discussed.
It's very natural to use your hands for emphasis when talking, but you do not want to become too demonstrative. This causes the interviewer to pay attention to your hands rather than listening to what you’re talking about. You don’t have to sit on your hands, but keep them under control.
If you want to irritate the interviewer be a fidgeter. Most people that fidget don’t even know the’re doing it, so you must become a self-a-ware person. Don’t play with your hair, click your pen, tap your foot, crack your knuckles, tug your ear, drum fingers on the arm of the chair, and do not chew and pop gum. Remember, you may not realize you’re doing these things, but the interviewer certainly will be aware of them.
The best way to correct any of these problem nonverbal cues is to ask your role playing partner to be on the lookout for them. Incorporating this into your role playing time prior to the interview gives you one less thing to worry about.