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Least Favorite Job Search Phase
Handy Body Language Tips Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

Many people underestimate the importance of body language during the interview process. Based on your body language, an interviewer will make assumptions about whether or not you are self-assured, energetic, timid, truthful, stress prone, nice, enthusiastic, funny, etc.  The truth of the matter is that your body language often speaks louder than your actual words do.

Studies show that when we are communicating, only 7% of the information received is verbal - the words that we use to get our point across. Our vocal communication consisting of pitch, speed, volume and tone of voice offers 38% of the communicated information. The 55% that remains to be judged during an interview is our body language. Let's talk about two of the most vital parts: the hands and arms.

If you have a faulty internal temperature control device like me, you typically find it difficult to warm up regardless of the season. One of the most common things we do when we are beginning to feel chilly is to fold our arms around ourselves to keep warm. This is a big no-no in an interview and should be avoided at all costs even if your lips are turning blue (which mine frequently are). Crossing your arms makes you appear insecure, uncomfortable, defensive, or closed minded, none of which will be received positively during an interview.

Let your hands lie loosely on your lap or place them on the armrests of the chair until you decide to use them. Keeping your hands stiffly by your side or stuck in your pockets can give the impression that you're insecure and uncomfortable.

Use hand gestures (the clean kind) to liven up the interview and to make you appear to be at ease. Don't start with too many at first but add them slowly as you go along. Your gestures will eventually seem natural to you so that you do not have to think about them. If you are a person who talks with their hands by gesturing frequently, be aware of whether your interviewer is doing the same. If not, try to mirror their actions by gesturing a bit less. You will score points that you don't even know were up for grabs.

The gesture that is most often underestimated in importance is the hand shake. No one wants to shake hands with a clammy or droopy hand, much like shaking hands with a fish. No matter what the circumstance, a dry, firm (but not painful), handshake should do the trick. This indicates strength, power and confidence.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
The hands and arms can be powerful additions to your interviewing toolbox if you know how to use them. They can help you get your point across to your interviewer in subtle ways that even he or she may not be aware of. Give yourself a helping hand by studying your body language before, during and after an interview. You may learn remarkable things about yourself that can dramatically improve your rate of interviewing success.
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!