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The Importance of Body Language During an Interview

12.15.10   |   Interview Advice   |   Kathleen Mauriot, Division Manager at Treeline Incorporated

Interviewing is not just poetry.....


written by: Kathleen Mauriot Division Manager at Treeline, Inc.

Picture this: You spend hours the night before your interview preparing. You review the typical interview questions and rehearse the answers over & over reciting them out loud until it sounds like poetry, flowing lyrics to your ears, answering questions without hesitation. "That's it. I'm done. I am going to ace this interview." You grab your calculator for the last time figuring your starting weekly paycheck. With a sigh, it's lights out.

Alarm rings, you are up instantly. You are early to the interview so you decide to stop in Dunkin's for a quick bite and coffee, and study your notes for the final time. You enter the company lobby. The receptionist asks you for your resume and you take a seat until the VP comes to greet you. After giving him your signature handshake, you are convinced everything is off to a great start. Things are going smoothly. You haven't been asked one question that's stumped you, no curve balls, and the VP was smiling the entire time. He seemed really impressed with you and you also enjoyed the conversation. In fact, you were so thorough with your answers that the interview wrapped up quicker than originally expected. As you walked out the door you truly envisioned yourself working there. Wow! I did it!

When you get home you have a message from your recruiter. Here is the feedback:

You actually "said" all the right things! However, in this case it was not what you "said" verbally but what you "said" through your body language that was a show stopper.

 

  • When the receptionist asked for your resume you responded with eyes rolling and "Oh gee, I thought he already has one?" You ran to the couch and dumped out your entire portfolio with hopes of finding a resume that was not in there. The only thing of importance that popped out was your new tube of lipstick that got wedged between the shoes of the guy sitting next to you. Making a good first impression is crucial. You may not have realized that you rolled your eyes but the message sent was that you were being inconvenienced and annoyed that they expected you to bring your resume to your interview.
  • A firm handshake displays confidence and control. Your "signature handshake" misfired. You went in for the kill, missed and awkwardly kept trying to hold his hand for 30 seconds. He thought you were going to hug him next.
  • Be mindful of your posture. Sit up straight and for Pete's sake - keep still! The VP was literally getting dizzy as you reminded him of his least favorite amusement ride - the Tea Cups. You were either very comfortable or trying to distract yourself.
  • Watch the hands. "Talking" with your hands has it's time and place. In an interview try to more conservative. When the VP asked you if you hit all your goals you raised both hands like pistols in the air shooting your invisible targets with sound effects and all. Didn't you think it was a little strange when the VP ducked for cover?


You were dead on when you said that the VP was smiling during the interview. He actually said it was the most amusing interview he held in a long time. So it looks like you made history! But amusing doesn't get the job. Preparing for an interview is more than just practicing saying the right answers. It's also important to back your answers up with the right body language. Practice in front of a mirror or role play with someone who will give you honest feedback. Don't be offended by the criticism, but learn from it and move on.

 

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