You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect resume. The format is eye-catching and the wording is practically perfect. But you’ll need much more than a well-crafted resume if you want to land your first job!
You have only seven seconds to make a first impression, and once the interviewer has labelled you as submissive or confident, credible or uncertain, likable or arrogant, it is very difficult to change that opinion.”
To make the most of those crucial few seconds, follow these 10 body language strategies to help you land your first job:
- Adjust your attitude. The fastest way to adjust your attitude – and this needs to be done before you enter the meeting room – is to change your posture: hold your head high, pull your shoulders back, and stand tall. By doing so, you will project confidence and competence from the moment you walk into the room.
- Lower your vocal pitch. When you are anxious or nervous, your vocal pitch tends to rise. Right before the interview allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch (a technique I learned from a speech therapist) by keeping your lips together and making the sounds ‘um hum, um hum, um hum.’
- Smile. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says, ‘I’m friendly and approachable.’
- Make eye contact. Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness. (To improve your eye contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you meet.)
- Raise your eyebrows. Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the ‘eyebrow flash’ that is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement.
- Shake hands. This is the quickest way to establish rapport. It’s also the most effective – if you do it right. Research shows it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake.
- Lean in slightly. Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and interested. But be respectful of the other person’s space. That means staying about two feet away.
- Maintain an open posture. You may cross your arms because you are cold, or more comfortable doing so, but most interviewers will interpret that gesture as protective or resistant. You’ll look more confident by exposing more of your body.
- Talk with your hands. Brain imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but when we move our hands. Since gesture is integrally linked to speech, gesturing as you talk can actually power up your thinking.
- Dress for success. I know it’s superficial, but in a job interview you are being evaluated, at least to some degree, by your appearance, your clothing and your grooming. If you want to be judged as you as the consummate professional you really are, you need to dress the part.
Unfortunately, most people focus so much on what they are saying that they don’t realize the impact of their ‘second conversation,’ the nonverbal one. By integrating savvy body language strategies into the interview process, new graduates can add power, professionalism, and polish to their job search.
Troy Media columnist Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, is an executive coach, consultant, and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She is also the author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead.