Body Language and First Impressions

man in chair, his feet on desk
Published: Thursday, December 18, 2014 by Jill Klees

Your body language can communicate more about you than your actual spoken words in making a first and lasting impression during an interview. The belief is that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of your voice, and only 7% is the actual words spoken.

This became very apparent to me while working with a student during a mock interview session. I noticed him squirming and fidgeting in his seat, leaning back in his chair and touching the back of his head when challenged by a question, and continuously breaking eye contact when he spoke.

I asked if he felt nervous in interviews and he said yes. I asked if he felt nervous right now and he said that he felt pretty calm. I shared my observation that his body language and his non-verbal actions led me to believe he was anxious and uncomfortable which was distracting. I wondered about his actions during an actual interview.

Follow the 10 tips below to ensure your body language demonstrates confidence and professionalism.

  1. Use a firm handshake.
  2. Maintain eye contact.
  3. Avoid fidgeting, squirming, or rocking in your seat.
  4. Sit up straight and tall in your chair.
  5. Keep your hands in your lap.
  6. Nod occasionally to avoid continuously bobbing your head in agreement.
  7. Avoid unnecessary touching of face and hair or fidgeting with objects.
  8. Maintain control of your hands, arms, and feet while talking.
  9. Avoid crossing your arms and feet which may convey being closed off.
  10. Smile! It is OK to show your emotion, passion, and interest for the job.

Interviewing is a skill and the more you do it, the better you will get. For more tips, check out the Interviewing section on the iSchool Career Development pages.

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