Whether it’s your first time, or you’ve done this a dozen times before, a job interview is always a stressful thing! How to prove yourself the best possible candidate for an opening is something that we all worry about. While we can’t, eventually, control the outcome of the interview, we sure can give it our very best shot. And just so you can do that, today we give you a few handy tips on modulating your body language to present yourself as a strong, confident candidate for the job. Take these to heart for the next time you’re headed out for an interview!
1. Keep your phone in your bag (and on “silent”!). In your hand makes you seem fidgety and inattentive, even if you’re just checking the time. And in the pocket of your skirt or trousers is just frumpy and awkward. Same with a handkerchief or tissue – stuff it into your purse. And if you’re in the habit of fiddling with your rings or necklace or hair, go without those accessories and style your hair so that it is pulled back from your face.
2. Lower your shoulders to square them instead of pushing your shoulder blades back – in the Indian context, the “thrust-out chest” resulting from the latter can actually be construed as “provocative” by many prospective employers.
3. Tilt your chin at a slight sideways angle rather than lifting it up (forwards) to convey determination. Sometimes, you unconsciously lift it up too much, and it makes you look stubborn or just a wee bit aggressive.
4. Practice an “open” smile. Not too much teeth, but not too little either because then your smile looks fake. Practice crinkling your eyes very slightly at the corners for your “professional” smile. It automatically pulls up your lips just a little bit extra at the corners, and makes your smile seem more genuine and warmer by engaging your whole face and not just your lips.
5. Practice “sounding” confident. This is especially important if you are doing a telephone or Skype interview. Pull a fake smile onto your face if you need to while you’re talking – it automatically lightens your voice, making you sound optimistic and confident. Your voice should never, ever show anxiety. Even if you look nervous, a cool, collected, “smiling” voice will go a long way towards making you appear self-assured.
6. Do not slouch – stand up straight! And without puffing out your chest or sticking your butt out. Imagine you’re getting your height measured against a wall – that’s the posture you need. Too much hip-cocking, etc., and unfortunately plenty of Indian interviewers will judge you too “feminine” – and therefore lightweight – for the job.
7. Stop tucking your elbows in! It is important, of course, to keep track of where your arms are, and not wave them wildly about while you’re talking (especially if you are a naturally exuberant person), but holding them fixed to your sides is not a great option either. It makes you seem stiff and “smaller”. It is harder to project an aura of confidence if the visual cue you are presenting is one of “shrinking”. Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang easily at your sides. And if that feels unnatural to you, clasp your hands together in front of you – your elbows will automatically align themselves into a natural-seeming position.
8. Crossing your legs when you’re sitting down is a no-brainer, of course. But cross them at the knees, not at the ankles. When you cross your legs at the ankles, your thighs slope downwards, pulling your whole body forward a bit, with the whole line of your spine (right up to your shoulders) subtly angled downwards. This is a position that reeks of “demureness” – not quite the impression you want to make as a killer applicant. When you cross your legs at the knees, your weight is firmly on your butt, forcing your body into a squarer, “more confident” posture.
9. In the seated position mentioned above, instead of keeping your hands on your lap, clasp them together around your upper knee. By pulling your arms and shoulders forward just a little bit, this position makes you seem more relaxed (and “in charge”) rather than sitting absolutely ramrod stiff. It also has the added benefit of anchoring you and not allowing you to accidentally slouch back in your seat!
10. Don’t blink too much – this can make you seem nervous and overwhelmed. This is not to say you can’t blink at all, of course – you must, else people will think you’re staring at them, which can freak them out. But take all possible precautions to make sure your eyes are clear to avoid a case of the batting-eyelashes in the middle of your interview. If you wear contacts, make sure your lenses aren’t too dry. And try to reach early enough so that you have time to make a quick trip to the loo and use a tissue to wipe the corners of your eyes clear of dust and gunk before the interview starts.
11. Do not lick or bite your lips. Even if you’re just thirsty and not nervous. A fidgety mouth is as bad as – if not worse than – fidgety fingers. On the morning of your interview, slather your lips with Vaseline before you start on your makeup to prevent chapping. Make sure to use a hydrating/ moisturizing lipstick, and touch up with a colourless lip balm five minutes before your interview. Pop a Chlormint or a similar menthol-based candy 15 minutes before the interview. The menthol keeps your mouth and throat cool, making it less likely that you’ll feel thirsty. Do not use gum, though – chewing dehydrates.
12. Before you start getting dressed for your interview, do some easy stretches. This will relax your muscles and reduce stress. Try this: stand straight, hold your arms out to two sides, and then rotate them round and round like you’re drawing circles in the air. This really helps open up your shoulders and makes you feel relaxed and even invigorated. And once you’re dressed and all set to leave the house, take five minutes to sit down and close your eyes and breathe. Clear your mind of everything except this interview. Be Zen, and you will be awesome at the interview!