The rules as regards to applying for jobs have been subject to enormous changes lately, and if you haven’t been job hunting for a while, it can come as a bit of a shock: In the past, people preferred a hand-written application letter, but it is becoming more and more common these days to find and apply for a vacancy via the internet. More and more often it is enough to email your C.V., or simply place your C.V. on the web, and because of this, the application procedure often goes more quickly, and you can find yourself invited for a job interview before you know it.
Of course you can find lots of information about how to apply for jobs on the net, and there is lots of guidance about how to write your application letter, the clothes that you should wear and even how to conduct yourself at the interview. However, although the importance of body language is often mentioned, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. After all, before a word has even been spoken, your body language will have already given people their first impression of you. And we all know, first impressions count.
What type of person are you?
By using words you can explain what type of education you have received and what experience you have. You can also show through words that you know what you’re talking about and you can answer questions to clarify matters. At the same time however, your body language will also give out a lot more information than you realise.
Based on your body language people will decide whether you come across as insecure or self-assured. It can also indicate if you are a busy or a quiet type, and it even gives an impression of whether you are telling the truth or not. Body language can show if you are not prone to stress. It can even show how enthusiastic you are, and if you are a nice person; someone who will take their work seriously, but also has a sense of humour and can enjoy a joke from time to time.
Members of the interview committee will ask you questions, but your answers won’t only be oral. The people interviewing you will not only pay attention to what you say, but also to how you say it. Body language can determine if everything ‘clicks into place’, and sometimes all it takes is a few seconds.
Everybody uses body language, but it usually takes place at a subconscious level. Through becoming more aware of your body language, and through recognising the body language of others, you can definitely increase your chances of getting that job.
Pay attention to time!
It might be a cliché to talk about arriving on time for a job interview, but I think it is still important enough to bring it to your attention. Your attitude or attention to time will also send out non-verbal messages.
An interview for a job is seen as a very important appointment, and showing up late for your appointment is absolutely unacceptable. Missing the bus or getting stuck in a traffic jam are pretty lame excuses. After all, for an important appointment like this you should have taken that into account. It’s much better to arrive way too early than even a little late. If you are too early for your appointment you don’t have to go in immediately: walk around the neighbourhood a little, because waiting for a long time in a hallway or a ‘sweatbox’ will not do your nerves any good. If it is very cold outside, it might be wise to go back in about ten minutes before your appointment because it can be very unpleasant to have to shake an ice-cold hand.
The first meeting
After you have announced yourself at the reception or to an employee of the company, you will often be asked to take a seat. After a while someone will come to take you to the interview area. Do not jump up immediately and offer this person a handshake. It’s better to let the other person take the initiative. Shake hands firmly, but not with an iron grip, and look straight at the other person. After this you will be introduced to the (other) members of the application panel. During this introduction it is better to walk around the table to shake hands with the panel members, instead of leaning over the table. With each greeting look directly at the other person, and say your name. Unless it is an internal application, don’t assume that the other people know your name.
Choosing the right seat
After the initial introduction you will usually be asked to take a seat. If you are left to choose a place yourself, choose a place from where you can clearly see all the interview participants, and from where they can also see you. If someone is sitting half behind you, and you can’t really see them, they may not get such a good impression of you.
Tune your body posture
During your job interview try to adopt a posture that shows interest but still comes across as relaxed. You can do this by sitting up straight in your chair at the beginning of the interview, with your back against the back of the chair. If you slouch or hang sideways in your chair, it might give the impression that you are not that interested in the job. However, sitting on the edge of your chair can come across as being a little tense and might give the impression that you feel uncomfortable.
You can change your body posture a little during the interview. For example, when someone says something it is good to turn a little with your shoulders towards this person and to lean forward a little. This shows an interest in what the other person is saying. You can emphasise this by tilting your head slightly. It is also important to pay attention to the posture of your interview partners. In some cases you can achieve mutual tuning by adopting the same posture as the other person.
What to do with your hands?
Just as when you are giving a presentation, many people often regard their hands as obstacles during a job interview, rather than a useful means of communication. That is why people often ask what to do with their hands. In a difficult situation we are inclined to fold our arms across our chest. This helps to give us a more secure feeling, but during a job interview it is better not to do this, because folding your arms can be interpreted as a defensive move. It is better to place your hands loosely on your lap or on the armrests of your chair. From these positions it’s also easy to support your words with hand gestures.