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Say it and Display it: The Power of Body Language

So you’re looking for a job. After talking to a potential employer over the phone or by e-mail, you’ve become interested in a job and have been invited to interview. You think through the possible scenario of the forthcoming interview and you look forward to a favorable outcome. And now think about this, and determine how much you have thought about the importance of your body language during the interview, which may be more important and even more expressive than the words you say. Yes, it is very insignificant.


We don’t think enough about what our hands do, how our legs are positioned. And when meeting the personnel manager, is it necessary to wiggle your ears?


But speaking seriously, it is normal for an interview to last 15-20 minutes, but the first couple minutes could be the most important part. The first impression that you give the person conducting the interview is an enormous factor in the final result of the interview. And even more surprising, the opinion of the interviewer is often formed even before the application and resume are reviewed, within the first six minutes. The importance of a first impression is evident in this statistic: 70 percent of the time, the interviewer forms an opinion about the candidate before a word is even spoken about the candidate’s competence, skills and abilities.


Since psychologists became interested in studying body language, a lot of significant factors have been discovered. The most shocking is how crucial and important just a small amount of words can be—even more important and meaningful than a lot of words, especially when mixed with body language and other signs or indications. Our speech perception and communication often goes beyond our immediate consciousness Together with our speech perception—people almost subconsciously look and decipher communication even before we have a chance to consciously analyze them and react to them. Looking into the face of someone who is communicating with words, we can notice subtle expressions—the slightest muscles send messages with even the most simple glance or movement. We do not have the opportunity to stop and calculate them consciously, but we still take them in and make meaning of them, without even realizing it. You will always transmit more than you realize as well as decipher and interpret infinite signals coming from others.


As it has been said before, the result of a job interview depends greatly on the first six minutes. This is obviously too quick to present in full your intellect, abilities, personality and attitude towards work and qualifications for the job. Let us give you several practical recommendations for your general character. By following them you will increase the chances that the employer will chose you over someone else. Turn body language into your ally, not your enemy.


When you first see the person conducting the interview raise from you seat, if it is necessary, smile and make eye contact. Give him an opportunity to extend a hand first and respond to his handshake. Some men feel uncomfortable when a woman extends a hand first and treat her conduct as provoking. Women must bear this in mind. On the other hand, a woman can extend a hand first to assess the whole situation, because she will hardly be pleased to work together with people who consider such conduct provoking. Usually you are shown where to sit, but if you have an opportunity to choose, try to sit down near the interviewer instead of sitting opposite to him. This way it is easier to show him your potential as a like-minded person. People sitting side by side cooperate better than those sitting face to face. Sit freely, placing your hands comfortably, but do not lounge, bending too much forward. But if you on the contrary lean back in the chair you will come across as arrogant, especially if you stare at the interviewer as you lean back. Even if you are a little nervous try to avoid an overprotective pose; do not fold your arms across your chest, and don’t clasp your hands together around your knees. Fussing, wiggling in the chair, playing with a pencil or other object – all these gestures can betray your nervousness. Holding your hands relaxed with your palms up is one way to demonstrate sincerity and benevolence. It is quite natural to feel some tension and you need to show it. People showing no signs of excitement can be apprehended as too self-confident and not focused or interested enough.


Eye contact with the person conducting the interview, but do not stare at him. Try to not to look embarrassed and avoid looking to the side, as it may make you appear irresponsible or easily distracted. Hiding your eyes may be considered a sign of shyness and unreliability. React to your interviewer’s words according to the general spirit of your conversation; do not show excess smiles or seriousness.


You can make your interviewer more receptive and learn about you by using body language that is unusual to him. Such behavior is called synchronous or “position echo.” It can be expressed by keeping

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