Keep Calm and Body Language

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Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

This guest post was written by Mike Ahern, a Northeastern University Career Development intern and graduate student studying higher education at Salem State University. 

Body language; it’s important. Stepping into the hiring manager’s office, shaking his/hers hand and sitting down you have an invaluable opportunity to impact your chances of landing the job. Whether those chances increase or decrease is entirely up to you and how you present yourself. Below you’ll find a few simple but effective ways to leave a lasting impact and project your brand as a potential employee. Let’s talk body language strategies.

Smiling: Too often candidates will miss this incredibly easy way to leave a lasting impact on the hiring manager. Due to the gravity of what getting a job “means” sometimes candidates will approach the interview in a very serious manner, which is understandable. But consider this; would you want to hire a candidate who’s stuck in Blue Steel mode during the interview? (…yes that was a Zoolander reference, you’re welcome…) Smiling can convey a variety of messages in our society not the least of which can be confidence, calm and last but not least a friendly demeanor.  Studies have even shown that smiling can greatly affect your self-perception, with more smiling leading to a happier psyche.  Also keep in mind it’s impossible to smile 24/7. Ever have to stand for a photo and keep smiling through multiple takes? Not the most comfortable feeling in the world, it’s ok to stop smiling or display a neutral facial expression. Just don’t frown your way through the conversation.

Posture:  Job interview or not, you should sit up straight. For a variety of reasons correcting bad posture will work wonders for your overall health. As far as body language is concerned, slouching or other displays of poor posture can negatively impact a hiring manager’s impression of you. More often than not leaning back or slouching down can portray boredom or disinterest. Conversely leaning too far in can crowd the interviewer and possible invade their personal space. Try to settle for a happy medium with a straight back and attentive expression. Sit up in the seat and position your feet evenly apart in a comfortable manner. Also pay attention to your arm position. Don’t cross your arms as it can imply that you are uneasy or closed off. Understanding the impact of posture on body language can go a long way to projecting your brand as an invested potential employee

Eye Contact: In Western culture eye contact is an important part of any conversation. It can portray respect, attentiveness and understanding. Equally important, it shows the hiring manager you can focus on the task at hand. Making eye contact and following the conversation is vital. If you are distracted and taking time to consider the generic artwork on the walls, chances are good you’ve missed an opportunity to connect with the interviewer or even worse, missed a question. Similar to the concept of neutral posture, there is a fine line between too much eye contact and not enough. Intently staring at the interviewer without breaking eye contact can be seen as aggressive or, quite frankly, awkward. On the other hand shifting your eyes back and forth between the interviewer and the floor isn’t a good look (pun intended). Consider following along with conversation, frequently making eye contact with the interviewer while briefly breaking eye contact to consider a point or take time to think of an answer.

Ultimately there are hundreds of body language strategies to subtly impact your chances of landing the job. These are three simple yet often overlooked aspects of body language that can portray an invested potential employee. Another thing to consider is that if you are an NU student or alumni (which you probably are if you’re on this blog) log into Husky Career Link on our website www.northeastern.edu/careers. Navigate to “Interview Stream” at the bottom of the home page. Here is a tool provided at no cost to current and former Northeastern University students where you can literally film yourself during an interview then reel back the tape and take in how you present through body language. After all, keep in mind that only you can prevent frowning, poor posture and a lack of eye contact when interviewing for a position.

Mike Ahern is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University in Career Development. Currently he is pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeahern1 or on Twitter @MIkeAAhern 

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