Job interview posture: Body language power tips
(MoneyWatch) At a job interview, how you sit, stand and walk can be as important as what you wear. It can even make as much of an impact as what comes out of your mouth. "There's an old adage that communication is 7% verbal and 93% 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 and author of "Destination Real World: Success after Graduation."
Here's how to make sure your body language is on point and you put your best self forward on interview day:
Sit and stand up straight
Slumping shows you're indifferent not only to how you portray yourself, but to the job itself. "Whether you are walking, sitting or standing, a straight back posture is the best looking, most professional pose," says Lisa Panarello, founder of Careers Advance and a finalist in the Toastmasters 2010 World Championship of Public Speaking. Leaning in slightly will show that you're listening closely and interested in what they have to say. Also: Avoid fidgeting.
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Do a practice run
Sometimes there's a big difference between how we feel we're presenting ourselves and reality. "One of the best ways to make sure that your body language is appropriate is to have a friend or family member watch you and see if you do any gestures or movements that could be construed as inappropriate in the workplace. Listen to the feedback and make adjustments as necessary," says Haddaway. You can also record yourself with a smartphone and do your own self-review.
Wear heels wisely
If you're a petite woman, heels can help you see eye to eye with your interviewer, putting you on more equal ground -- literally. But that doesn't mean you should wear them. "If you're not comfortable or you don't have a lot of practice with walking in heels, it's probably best to opt for another type of clean and professional footwear. Chances are good that during the interview, you'll need to walk to an office or conference room, so if you can't do that successfully in heels, don't wear them," says Haddaway. A low heel may be a good compromise.
Smile throughout your conversation, but furrow your brow if you're talking about a challenge you've faced, says Panarello: "Change it up. Tell a story like you are reliving it and help the interviewer relive it with you." Whenever possible, try to maintain eye contact (without staring your interviewer down).
Walk with them
If you're following your interviewer to or from the room, stick with them, says Haddaway: "Keep their pace and don't lag behind." Of course, give them enough room so you don't awkwardly (and painfully) step on their heels.
If you find yourself standing for long periods of time, whether it's presenting during a group interview or introducing yourself to potential co-workers at their desks, Panarello says to be sure to stand on two flat feet. "Do not lean on one hip (too casual) or rock back and forth (this shows nervousness and will be distracting). Also, keep your legs and feet in line with your waist -- too close together and you will teeter, too far apart and you will naturally want to cross your arms for balance, and you'll look overconfident or closed off," says Panarello.
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