Making Your Body Language Work

Author: Angela Campiere       

Interviewing for a job can be a stressful process. There are cover letters to write, resumes to update, and answers to prepare. But while those are all important factors for landing the job, there’s another element experts say you should also focus on: your body language. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good or bad fit for the role, and body language can be a major factor in that decision.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare and practice everything from your body language to answers to standard interview questions,” said Rosemary Haefner, former chief HR officer at CareerBuilder. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so going in well-prepared is key.”

When asked what types of body-language mishaps job seekers make, hiring managers noted that 31 percent of candidates have bad posture. According to experts, a neutral posture is your best bet since a straight spine sends a “message of self-assuredness.”

“It seems so simple, but it’s amazing to me how many people ignore this important advice,” consultant Cynthia Burnham told Forbes in a 2012 interview.

Hiring managers also note eye contact — or lack thereof. “While it’s important to be confident and look the interviewer in the eye, locking eyes with someone for an extended period of time can be interpreted as aggressive,” Amanda Augustine, job search expert at TheLadders.com, told Forbes. But while too much eye contact can make your interviewer uncomfortable, not enough can be a bad tactic since experts say a lack of eye contact can make you appear distracted or disinterested.

Crossing your arms in front of you while you talk is one of the biggest things that can hurt your chances during your interview, according to 31 percent of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder. And repeated pointing, gesturing, or fidgeting can make you seem overly aggressive. Instead “you should appear open and approachable,” author Karen Friedman told Forbes, “which means your hands should be in front of you and ready to gesture naturally.”

Practicing moderation in your body language is your best bet for acing your interview, according to experts, since moderate body language limits outside distractions and allows your interviewer to focus on what really matters — you.

Learning to regulate your body language can help you land the job. But don’t let your online presence derail you before getting a chance to make your mark with your new company.