During a job interview, applicants are speaking volumes before they say one word. Our appearance is the first thing that employers evaluate. There’s a lot of debate about the degree to which appearance should impact an applicants interview performance, and rightly so. It can be an issue and sometimes, illegal to base too much of an applicant’s value on appearance. While HR managers and experts continue to reflect on how best to incorporate appearance into the assessment process, applicants can do a few things to maximize those first impressions.
Our body language is as much a part of our appearance as our outfit. How we hold our face and body communicates a great deal about what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling. We all have a comfortable or natural way of presenting ourselves, which may or may not help us during the interview process. If you think your body language needs some tweaking, check out these tips for making sure you’re putting your best foot (and face) forward.
Record yourself. Wondering if you’re body language is communicating the wrong message? Record yourself on video! Have a couple of close friends or colleagues help you out by doing a little mock interview. One friend can pretend to be the interviewer and another can record you during the process. This works best if you can take the mock interview seriously. Some colleges provide alumni with resources related to interviewing including assessing your interview skills. It may be worth calling your alma mater to see if that would be willing to record a mock interview and give you feedback on your performance.
Learn and practice power poses. Social psychologist, Dr. Amy Cuddy studies the impact of body language in the workplace. One of her research findings suggests that there are certain stances and postures that encourage self-confidence and help people present well in the business environment. Her TED Talk, “Your body language may shape who you are,” discuss the importance of “power poses” and demonstrates techniques for improving how people present themselves to others.
Know your facial expressions. Some of us are terrible at poker because our facial expressions give us away every time. If you’re someone that wears your emotions on your face, it’s important to be mindful of that. Often, just knowing your expression says 1000 words can help you get it under control. Sometimes practicing “go to” faces in the mirror can help you express, “oh, that’s interesting” when you’re thinking “oh, that’s ridiculous.”
Wear comfortable clothing. The clothing we wear can impact our body language. If we are spending time adjusting our clothes or shivering because we’re too cold, we risk communicating a closed-off vibe. Do your best to find a suit and footwear that is appropriate and attractive, yet comfortable. Feeling comfortable will allow you to focus on all of the other things your body is conveying during an interview.