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How Not to Let Body Language Ruin Your Job Interview

Aug 1st 2017
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Is your mouth saying “yes” but your body language saying “no?” When it comes to landing an accounting job, what you say to a prospective employer may be less important than how you say it.

According to a recent survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam, a subsidiary of Robert Half, senior managers said 30 percent of job candidates display negative body language during interviews.

Eye contact is the most telling nonverbal cue when meeting with candidates, according to respondents, who rated it a 4.18 on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 indicating the highest significance).

Other notable nonverbal cues include facial expressions (3.96), posture (3.55), handshake (3.53), fidgeting/habitual movements (3.33), and hand gestures (3.03).

“Providing thoughtful responses and asking intelligent questions carry a lot of weight during a job interview, but your body language can also speak volumes,” Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a written statement. “Candidates need to do everything they can to increase their chances of receiving an offer – and that includes avoiding negative and distracting nonverbal behaviors.”

Here are five tips on how job seekers can effectively let their body do the talking during an interview:

1. Get hands-on. Aim for a handshake that’s firm but doesn’t crush the recipient. Limit the duration to a few seconds.

2. Break out of that slump. Subtly mirror the interviewer’s body language and posture. Sit up straight and lean forward slightly to show engagement and confidence. 

3. Put on a happy face. A genuine smile demonstrates warmth and enthusiasm. Conduct a mock interview with a friend to find out if you’re unwittingly sending negative nonverbal cues.

4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Maintain regular eye contact during the meeting, but look away occasionally. Staring may be perceived as aggressive.

5. Don’t fidget. Resist the urge to shake your legs, tap your fingers, or twirl your pen. It’s fine to use hand gestures, as long as they’re not distracting. Uncross your arms and legs to appear more open and receptive.

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