As you step into your interviewers office, you make a powerful and conscious effort to seem competent and pleasant. You sit up straight, you smile from ear to ear, and your handshake clamps down on the innocent paw of everyone you meet like a trustworthy, friendly, agreeable, hardworking, go-getting bear trap. You have this non-verbal communication thing locked down.
Except for one problem. And that one uncontrollable tell is completely giving you away. Without your knowledge, your twitchy eyebrow or constant lip-licking are revealing you as the insecure bundle of nerves that you really are. Get these stray gestures under control by paying attention and recognizing the most common non-verbal interview mistakes that can get you into trouble.
1. Hugging yourself.
Like all of the gestures on this list, candidates don't usually recognize when this one is happening, and they certainly don't engage in it on purpose. But as it happens, human beings sometimes unconsciously console themselves when they get nervous by clenching their hands together or wrapping their arms around their bodies. Instead of giving in to a natural instinct to protect yourself by hugging your limbs in close, force yourself to relax and extend in all directions like a sunbathing starfish. Occupy your entire chair—don't perch in the middle or at the edge. And let your arms rest at your sides.
2. Touching your face and mouth.
When you touch your face or use your hands in a way that covers your mouth, you send the unconscious message that you have something to hide and your words can't be trusted. Watch out for this move by actively keeping your hands below neck level at all times.
3. Lip-licking, cheek-chewing, and mouth manipulation.
Keep your tongue inside of your mouth and keep your mouth relaxed at all times. During your interview, use your mouth for speaking and smiling only. It may be harder to do this than you realize.
4. Playing with objects in front of you.
Try not to pick up objects on your interviewer's desk and play with them as you speak. If you absolutely need to fiddle with something, choose an object you brought along, like a hair-tie, your own paper clip, or a pen from your own supply. Better yet, don't fiddle with anything at all. And we shouldn't have to tell you that this includes your phone. (Your phone should be neither seen nor heard for the duration of the interview process.)
5. Not blinking.
It's good to make eye contact. Casual but focused eye contact with your interviewer can help you establish a personal connection and can convey reliability, honesty and respect. But keep your eye movements natural. Don't stare hypnotically or go without breaking your gaze or blinking for thirty straight minutes. If you don't know where to place your eyes, look down at your interviewer's hands periodically.
6. Tugging at your clothes.
Your interview outfit may be spot on, but you'll lose all the points you gain in this department if you seem uncomfortable. Don't pick at, adjust, tug, hike up or alter your clothes as your speak. If they fit you perfectly and you feel comfortable in them, they work. If these things don't apply, don't wear these clothes. Choose something else.
A Strong Impression Starts with a Great Resume
A great interview can land you the job of your dreams. But in order to land that interview, you'll need an effective resume. Visit MyPerfectResume for tips and guidelines that can help you get your foot in the door.