Author – Yohana Desta, Mashable.com
Career experts have long analyzed body movement as a way to determine a person’s character. To determine what kind of movements are vital for interviews, we spoke to body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass, who writes about these kinds of tips in her book The Body Language Advantage, Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of SNAP — Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma, and Tonya Reiman, a body language expert whose latest book was 2012’s The Body Language of Dating.
1. Sit all the way back in your seat. Sit firmly and lean your back straight against the chair. It’s the first thing Glass recommends — an automatic signal of assurance and confidence. If you’re a natural sloucher, pretend there’s a string pulling you up from the crown of your head.
2. Don’t go for direct eye contact. Instead, go for “direct face contact,” Glass recommends. A more effective way to ensure you look interested and engaged is to look different parts of someone’s face every two seconds, rotating from eyes, to nose, to lips, so you’re never just drilling into the interviewer’s eyes.
3. Use hand gestures while speaking. If you’re not sure what to do with your hands, go ahead and gesture while speaking.
“When you’re really nervous, you tend to want to hide your hands because they express your anxiety,” Wood tells Mashable. Keeping your hands hidden can be misinterpreted as distrustful behavior.
4. Show your palms. When your palms are up, it signals honesty and engagement. The limbic brain picks up the positivity, which will make the interviewer comfortable, Wood says.
“It’s one of the reasons we shake hands, to show the open palm,” Wood says. “It’s so tied to survival instincts … If we don’t see open palm gestures, it puts us on our guard.”
In general, upward-facing body language, such as open palms, smiles and straight posture, also makes you look energetic, Glass says.
5. Plant your feet on the ground. Wood and Reiman both recommend keeping feet firmly the ground. Women should never cross at the knees, but rather the ankles, “as this allows them to switch if necessary without being obvious.”
There’s also a scientific benefit to keeping your feet grounded.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to answer highly complex questions unless both of your feet are on the ground,” Wood says. “It has to do with being able to go back and forth easily between the limbic reptilian brain to the neocortex brain.”
In layman’s terms, planted feet can help you go between creative thought and highly complex rational thought.
6. Work on your walk. Interviewers often make a hiring judgment within the first 10 seconds of meeting you, Wood says. How you walk into the room is a part of that judgment.
“Shoulders pulled back and neck elongated, each stride should be roughly one to two feet wide,” Reiman says. “Walk directly toward the person you are meeting with every body part pointing in his direction, maintaining eye contact with occasional breaks to the side.”
7. Breathe deeply, and speak on the exhale. One way to soothe interview nerves is to breathe properly. Reiman, Wood and Glass all recommend focusing on the breath as a vital part of the interview process. Glass recommends inhaling when the interviewer asks you a question, then speaking on the exhale, following the air flow.
“Deep breathing engages our parasympathetic reaction, which calms us down,” Reiman says. She recommends taking 10 deep, diaphragmatic breaths before the interview, because it “reduces our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone level.”
8. Nod your head while listening. Aside from keeping eye and face contact, nodding your head while listening is an additional way to show attentiveness.
“Nod your head occasionally to let them know you are enjoying and understand what is being said,” Reiman explains.
9. Lean in. No one loves leaning in more than Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Leaning in is a natural thing to do when you’re engaged in a conversation, Wood says. Reiman suggests the same — leaning slightly forward (keeping your shoulders back and down, and your chest high) demonstrates interest.
“Your posture is an integral part of your nonverbal conversation.”
BONUS: For phone interviews… If you don’t have the benefit of a face to face interview, Wood recommends getting up and walking while on a phone interview. Much like planting your feet, it helps “sync the left and right hemisphere” of the brain, making your answers sharper.