How important is body language? One look at the scathing reviews that Academy Awards co-host James Franco received for his demeanor during the ceremony and you'll know!
From The Hollywood Reporter: "Franco seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout." USA Today seconded that opinion: "At least Hathaway was in there pitching throughout -- unlike her co-host, who sometimes seemed to be preparing for a remake of 'Dazed and Confused.'" Even Franco's fans kept their fingers on the keyboards as they expressed their dismay. Commenter "y tlouct" at CBS.com said: "Franco looked detached, above it all, and smug."
What does this have to do with jobs? Everything. Body language -- which consists of posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements -- can make or break a interview. And while it may seem like a no-brainer, not everyone is aware of its importance.
"I never realized how much your body language, the way you speak and present yourself from the beginning, even simple tips like sit more on the edge of the chair, cross your ankles and not your knees -- all of that really makes a difference in an interview," says Debbie Gazzola, an unemployed office administrator from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Gazzola received these insights at her local San Bernadino Employment Resource Center, which offers classes to give the jobless tips and tricks to help them land their next job.
For those who are still unaware of the image they're projecting (over here, Mr. Franco), here are five interview-tripping tips you should keep in mind:
1. Eye contact
Maintaining eye contact can never be emphasized enough. If you watched the Oscar telecast, you would have noticed Franco gazing off to the side, looking down on the ground, anywhere but at the viewer or audience. On a smaller scale, when you're in a room across from an interviewer, it's especially important to let your eyes do the "talking," so to speak. That will let them know that you are interested and confident.
By no means does this mean maintaining a hard stare; that can be disconcerting. Instead, aim for keeping eye contact about 70 percent of the time.
2. Good posture
This is one of those areas where you need to find your middle ground. Sitting ramrod straight in your chair gives off an "I'm uptight" feeling. Similarly, slouching says, "Hey, I'm too cool for this." Neither one will get the right message across.
So, try leaning forward a bit when the interviewer is speaking, and sit up taller when it's your turn.
You don't need to be a "bobble-head" to let the interviewer know that you're listening and agreeing with what they're saying, however, you should nod occasionally where it's applicable.
If the recruiter is grimacing while discussing the subject of "brown-nosers," for example, you might want to keep your nodding in check.
Nothing says "I'm an agreeable person to work with," than a nice, toothy grin. If you've ever encountered someone with no expression at all, you know how disconcerting that can be. Imagine an interviewer's position. They are trying to find the best fit for their job. A warm, engaging personality and an easy smile (don't force it) will break down their defenses.
It goes without saying that you should check that smile before the interview to make sure there is no visible sign of whatever you last ate.
This is mostly a cultural habit. Some people are brought up to stand close when speaking to someone. Others will feel claustrophobic when encountering that kind of person. To make sure there is no discomfort, go for the middle ground. Try to maintain a bit of distance when talking to the recruiter -- a distance of about two to three feet between you is considered optimal.
Finally, most experts suggest taking your cues from the interviewer, a technique called "mirroring." Try to adopt their posture; if they are formal, do the same; if relaxed, that's your cue to smile a lot more.
Above all, like most things in life: Practice, practice, practice before your interview.
Next: What Your Body Language Says About You