6 Ways to Ruin an Interview without Saying a Word!

Scenario:   The employer greets you and reaches out to shake your hand.  You respond by giving her the tips of your fingers. You follow her to her office and immediately sit down in the first chair you come to. In order to feel comfortable, you cross your legs away from her and look around her office while she is talking to you. You notice the room is cold so you cross your arms and tap your foot to increase your circulation. 

Okay.. so what did you do wrong?

http://0.tqn.com/d/etiquette/1/0/9/2/-/-/Octaviolopez.jpg1.  THE HANDSHAKE
Extend your arm with your hand outstretched with thumb straight up. Make sure hands are web-to-web -- slide your hand into the other person's until your webs touch. Then grip the person’s hand firmly but not too firm. Give it just one to two pumps.

Bad body language2.  TAKING YOUR SEAT
Since a person’s office is an extension of their personal space, it is polite to wait until the interviewer offers you a seat and indicates where they prefer you to sit. If they are not be forthcoming, take the initiative and ask “Where would you like me to sit?”

Crossing your legs send a negative or “closed” signal, especially if your legs are crossed away from the person. 

Looking into someone’s eyes means you are showing interest in that person and showing interest is an important step towards making a good impression. Just be sure to break your gaze as needed so as not to appear to be staring!

Folding or crossing your arms also sends a negative and closed message to the interviewer.

6.  FEET 
Okay, so you are nervous but try not to fidget by moving your feet - which can annoy the interviewer.

 Did you know that the first impression we create in the first few minutes of the interview is the most lasting?  And since the few minutes is the time when the employer is doing most of the talking.  We can’t control the impression we are making with our words so it is up to our bodies, then, to do the job for us. 

Want to have a successful “non-verbal” interview?  
Practice!  Practice! Practice! Try practicing your handshake with people you know and get feedback.  When talking with someone, slide back in your chair, lean forward slightly with  your head up, both feet on the floor and hands on the sides of the chair (or in your lap).  Offer your smile naturally as appropriate. Communicate your interest by having good eye contact and offering small encouragers by nodding and smiling slightly. And keep your hands under control! Hiding them in your pockets, nervous fidgeting and adjusting your clothing are annoying habits that can take on a greater significance in an interview situation. The more open your body movements during the interview, the more you will be perceived as open yourself. Men can also add to the impression of openness by unbuttoning their jackets as they sit down. 

As you become more aware of your body language and ways to use it effectively, it will add to your confidence level.  Then you can focus more on the verbal aspects of your interview! 

If you would like help practicing your interview skills, schedule a mock interview with the Career Center by calling 334-844-4744 or try practicing at your own pace using Interview Stream.

Written by Phyllis Bickers, NCC
Career Counselor in the AU Career Center

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