You’ve been practicing what to say at an interview, but have you considered what signals your body language is sending? Research suggests up to 93 percent of communication isn’t transmitted via our words, but is broadcast through our actions and attitude.
Patti Wood, author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, suggests the following tips to help you wow your interviewer:
Palm-to-palm contact is key. Wood explains: “My research suggests that palm contact is more important than how firm your grip is … If someone shakes hands with you and gives you just her fingers and not her full palm, at a subconscious level you may think, ‘What is she hiding? What is she keeping from me?'” Evaluate the all-important handshake and worry less about if you have a firm enough grip and more about extending your entire hand and palm when you greet someone.
How to sit. Don’t make yourself smaller in stature.
Show your hands. Showing your hands helps you appear open and approachable. “Don’t hide your hands under the table or in your pockets or tuck them away,” Wood notes. “Keep your hands open and in view on the table or the arms of the chair.”
Match and mirror. Research shows that people hire people who are like them. Use body language to help convince your interviewer that you’re a good fit.
Get grounded. “To overcome the toughest interview questions, put both feet firmly on the ground. This makes it easier to use both hemispheres of the brain—the rational and the creative-emotional. Or, if you feel yourself freeze, move your feet in some way.”
End well. While first impressions are important, people will also remember the last thing you do or say. Wood suggests: “As the conversation winds down, make sure your belongings are on the left side of your body so you can easily shake with your right hand. You may shake hands more than once—when you get up, at the door, and after talking for a bit longer while parting.” Even if the interview didn’t go as well as you might have liked, keep focused and poised until the end and you may be able to improve the impression you leave.
drawing by Aidan Jones