Did you know that your body posture and gestures say a lot about you even before you answer the very first question asked at your job interview? The way you walk into the manager’s office, the way you sit, the way you stand, and the things you do with your hands all give out signals to the interviewer that you may not even be aware of. And these will be a factor in the manager’s decision to hire you or not.
Whether you’re making a major career move or applying for a temporary part time job in Singapore, you have to be aware of what your body is telling the people around you. This could significantly boost your chances of getting the job. Even recruitment agencies in Singapore recognize the importance of non-verbal communication. They know that whatever impression a talent of theirs makes at a job interview, it will reflect on them as well as the talent.
To help you make a positive first impression here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
Smile. As soon as you enter the room, put on a bright smile to let the manager know that you are happy to be there for your interview. Give him a nice toothy smile, not the closed-mouth variety, and accompany this with wide eyes that communicate enthusiasm.
Give a firm handshake. Managers like to feel a good, firm grip when shaking hands with applicants. A limp handshake communicates a lack of energy and enthusiasm, which in the manager’s mind translates into a listless approach to work. Let your interviewer feel your positive energy through the way you grip his hand.
Sit properly. Lean forward slightly. Your lower back should be the only part touching the backrest of the chair. Keep your chin up, chest out, stomach in, shoulders straight, and both feet on the floor. Feel free to rest your elbows on the armrests, with your hands lightly clasped together in front of you, or resting on your laps or knees.
Establish eye contact. Look into your interviewer’s eyes as he talks to you. This tells him you’re paying attention. Nod every now and then to let him know you’re absorbing the things he’s saying. A word of warning, though: prolonged eye contact can cause some discomfort. Break away every once in a while. Look away for a moment, and then re-establish eye contact.
Gesture with your hands. When you talk without appropriate gestures, you tend to look stiff. Just be sure not to overdo this. Use small hand motions. A good rule of thumb is to keep your elbows on the armrests as you gesture.
Fix yourself up. You’re supposed to take care of your appearance before the interview, not during. Constantly fussing with your hair and clothes while the manager is talking to you is very distracting, and can even be considered impolite.
Look around. Eyes that keep darting about in all directions are a sign of lack of focus. If a manager sees you looking at everything except him, he’ll immediately think you’re distracted, and you’re not giving him the attention he deserves.
Hide your hands. Putting your hands in your pockets, under your thighs, or behind your back can be interpreted to mean that you’re hiding something. Always keep your hands in front of you and ready to gesture when you speak.
Touch any part of your face. Especially, don’t touch your nose or your ears. Gestures like these betray nervousness and inability to focus, not to mention that they are very distracting to the interviewer. Resist the urge to scratch an itch, but if you really must, do it very quickly and only once throughout the entire interview.
Cross your arms. This is one of the biggest job interview no-nos. When you cross your arms across your chest, you put on a defensive pose. Body language experts refer to crossed arms as a “barrier” that’s meant to block accusations or criticisms. There is an exception to this, though: if your interview is held at a table rather than the manager’s desk (for example, in a conference room or a restaurant), it is acceptable to cross your arms and rest them on the table.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to dress properly and know the most common interview questions and answers. Your body language reveals who you are just as much as the things you say. Let your body convey to your interviewer that you’re relaxed but not too at home, confident but not cocky, and most of all, happy to be there for the interview.
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