The Importance of Body Language in the Job SearchB
By Damian Birkel                                                                                                                                   

A recent article in Business Week entitled, "It’s NOT Your Mouth That Speaks Volumes," states that stance, gestures and eye contact are all essential to effective presentation in an interview.

The world's best business communicators have strong body language: and a commanding presence that reflects confidence, competence, and charisma. In addition they also create an aura of confidence, optimism and power.

Did you know that when you communicate:

o   50% is visual.

o   40% is vocal.

o   10% involves actual words.

Think about that! When you arrive at an interview or networking event, what verbal/visual cues are you projecting? Even before you begin to speak, your over-all presentation has already made  strong impression created..

Be sure that your body language conveys poise optimism and competence.

Let's say you're all set for your big interview. This is the interview that could change your career. You know you can wow the person across the desk with your accomplishments. You are ready to give the presentation that reflects months of hard work and success.

But, what does your body language say? Does it say you're confident, well groomed and enthusiastic or just the opposite?

Body Language to Avoid

One problem with body language is it may not convey what you really feel. For instance, if you don’t stand up straight or keep your hands stiffly by your side it can create the impression that you're insecure whether you are or not.

Another problem is failing to make eye contact maybe you're simply too busy consulting your résumé but that may lead people to think you're being less than honest with them.

You may be slouching because you're tired, but people may read it as a sign that you're not interested.

Things to Remember

Effective body language can help establish an immediate rapport with your audience. and signals confidence in your over-all message. Here are a few things to remember:

·         Be sure to greet your interviewers warmly.

·         Offer a firm (but not crushing) handshake.

·         Establish eye contact.

·         Smile.

·         Sit forward in your chair.

The Eyes Have It

People want to feel special. They want to feel as though you are speaking to them directly or that they are the most important person in the room during your conversation. Breaking eye contact is a surefire way to break the connection.

During presentations split the room into thirds. Address some of your comments to one side of the room, turn your attention to the middle, and then look to the last section. Pick out one person in each section and direct your comments toward that person. The people surrounding that person will think you are making direct eye contact with them too!

Maintaining eye contact throughout your presentation requires preparation. The material on your slide should be committed to memory; otherwise you will be stuck reading instead of connecting. Make sure you know what's in your résumé or notes so you're not constantly referring to them.

Don't let anything come between you and your listeners. Crossing your arms, standing behind a podium or chair, or talking to someone from behind a computer monitor are all examples of blocking, which prevents a real connection from taking place.

Think openness. Remove physical barriers, podiums, computers, chairs. Even a folder on a desk can break the connection and create distance.

Animate Yourself

When you're speaking, let your hands do some of the talking. Great speakers use hand gestures more than on average. Gestures give the listener confidence in the speaker.

Try this: Watch people such as Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Tony Blair or any number of charismatic speakers. You will immediately begin to notice that they punctuate nearly every sentence with a hand gesture. C-SPAN carries weekly debates between the British Prime Minister and members of the House of Commons. Watch it once and you will understand how important and effective hand gestures really are.

And move the rest of your body, too. Great speakers move around the room, pointing to a slide instead of reading from it, placing their hands on someone's shoulders instead of keeping their distance. Don't animate your slidesundefinedanimate your body!

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Poor posture is often associated with a lack of confidence or a lack of engagement or interest. For example, during a job interview, leaning back in your chair can give the impression that you're lazy, unmotivated, or dispassionate about the position. Keep your head up and back straight. Lean forward when seated. By sitting toward the front of your chair and leaning forward slightly, you will look far more interested, engaged, and enthusiastic.

It's All Learnable

I once worked with a candidate preparing for a major interview. His body language was a mess, eyes cast downward, hands awkwardly tucked in his pockets, swaying back and forth. This guy was a poster boy for poor body language. He seemed insecure and out of his league.

Showing him the video results of a mock interview created an “a-haa moment.” He was shocked to see what he looked like; meager eye contact, no hand gestures and slumping posture. With the job interview days away and after much practice, he learned to make made solid eye contact, utilizing assertive hand gestures. His posture and stance exuded power, confidence, and competence he had charisma. Guess what? He got the job!

Remember, effective interviewing requires strong body language. Don’t be afraid to practice your body language in front of a mirror. Practice the words you use, monitor your body language and watch your job interview success influence rocket!

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