Aristotle’s statement that “man is by nature a social animal” sure is the perfect way to introduce this blog’s entry. We are constantly interacting with other people, whether it be our family or colleagues, classmates, friends, teachers or strangers amongst others.
When it comes to communication, you should consider at least two aspects of your message: what you are literally saying, versus everything else (apart from words) that can send alternative messages. Not to forget that there always is at least one receiver -even when not intended- interpreting and decoding the message in all its complexity. Let’s imagine what you would communicate if you tell someone “I love you” or “forgive me” while rubbing your eyes, staring at the ceiling, or even crossing your arms. This example might seem exaggerated, and of course body language also depends on the context, but you should be aware of its existence and, above all, of its importance for recruiters while carrying out job interviews with candidates.
Most recruiters will pay special attention to what you are doing with your body in general; your gestures, the way you move your hands, if you scratch your nose, touch your hair or sit inappropriately, and tons of other NVC (non-verbal communication) signs. Don’t panic! A single body language signal isn’t as reliable as several ones and you shouldn’t be too worried about it. You don’t need to be a NVC expert, but as long as you take these tips into consideration, you are likely to leave a positive impression:
- 1) Give a nice and firm handshake, this will transmit confidence and trust. Never hand-hug or grind your interlocutor’s knuckles, you might be seen as aggressive or dominant. You should also avoid giving a “cold and clammy” handshake, you don’t want to seem nervous or insecure.
- 2) Never cross your arms. This will project defensiveness as your arms represent a protective barrier.
- 3) Sit straight but not unnaturally-straight. Take control of your body, relax your shoulders and try to be as natural as possible.
- 4) Maintain eye contact as it will show honesty, but don’t forget to blink. This may sound obvious, but if the situation makes you nervous, you will find yourself staring at your interviewer 100% of the time, looking either intimidating or awkward.
- 5) It’s okay to use your hands while speaking whenever you need to, just don’t make it an aerobic gym class. However, staying statue like still is just as counter-productive as moving in an exaggerated way.
- 6) Try to smile naturally and to articulate, also watch the speed at which you speak (not too fast, not too slow).
- 7) Don’t touch your hair or any part of your body excessively. This applies to any jewelry or accessory you might be wearing.