Let Your Body Do the Talking: Five Subliminal Messages You Should Know About

job interview 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.


3. Nodding

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.


4. Smiling

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.


5. Proximity

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

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22 Comments

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chantelle.spicer

PLEASE GIVE THE BEST OF THE BESTEST ADVICE FOR A KICK ASS INTERVIEW........................

April 30 2013 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chantelle.spicer

In order to get a great paying job is it necessary to get a degree? Seriouse, does personality count with common sense anymore?

April 30 2013 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mahatma

I went to this interview and I innocently asked about when i would be paid. The guy seemed puzzled about me asking about that. I asked if I could get an advance on my pay. He said, "you haven't even done any work". I then told him that , If I put in work time I wanted to make sure I was paid, like if I did not get paid on time the I might have to get violent about collecting my pay. The guy just got up and said "I can't use you and ended the interview". I think I was discriminated against by this guy. He did not even ask me about references or about my previous job.

March 22 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mahatma's comment
kr5and

You really said that? I would have told you to leave as well. What where you thinking. No company wants an employee only there to collect a check. Next time try actually wanting the job and you might get past the interview. O and its not discrimination the interviewer just had common sense.

April 11 2011 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
N68Firebird

I agree with "wfgrnms" who posted four hours earlier. I can remember being on job interviews where I knew I definitely did not want to work at there. One place I interviewed at years earlier had a program where they would log the time when people either were not working on the computer. The employees could be at the bathroom, in a meeting, discussing work-related issues with co-workers, or doing other work at their desk, just not messing with the computer - but the time was logged in. I was unemployed at the time, and PRAYED that they would not hire me! Thank GOD, my prayers were answered!

March 22 2011 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sloedanz

These are all good points, but one should also tailor your body language to some degree to the position or the field that your are trying to land. A car saleman position should invoke a more outgoing and friendly personna than a more somber and tacturn body language for a position at a funeral home. If you can get a look at the other employees at the firm you are trying for, this can often help you adjust how you should present yourself, especially if you are interviewing with an operations manager as opposed to a Human Resources person.

March 22 2011 at 3:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
RWE

I brought a 6 pack and a carton of smokes. A copy of Maxim. Wore shorts . Did not shave.
They loved me

March 22 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
RWE

I was interview once and for some reason I started to drool, then bark like a dog and
run around the guys desk. He hired me anyway.

March 22 2011 at 2:11 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
morganbeverly

Great Tips works well in Big Cities, male or female, it all comes down to Common Sense which is a thing of the past; However in P.B., MO your posturing, eye contact and your smiles don't really matter. I'm 51, small stature, 105 pounds, with 30+ years in various administrative fields with professional demeanor and references. Though there is no way to prove age discrimination, if you take a look at the positions I've applied and interviewed with, the people that actually land the jobs, it's young with big hair, big boobs, and a hee-hee laugh. It does seem after all experience does not have its advantages if you are up there in years. I agree with ibginfo It's mind games and you have to be willing to play their game. And if you move to P.B. MO forget about help from the MO Career Center. They are way too busy eating breakfast and lunch to be of any help.

March 22 2011 at 1:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ibginfo

It's all a game, that's all it is.

March 22 2011 at 12:15 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
wfgrnms

The interviewer forgets that while doing an interview, he/she is being sized up as a representative of the establishment by the interviewee either positively or negatively. Tobacco breath, dirty and wrinkled white shirts, unpolished shoes, sloppy hair, unkempt hands and fingernails, poor presentatiion, use of poor language, poor knowledge of the position, etc. , are all negatives that a wise person takes into account while being interviewed. If you are seeking a professional position, be professional and expect nothing less from your interviewer.

March 22 2011 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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