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Use Your Body to Get the Job (it's not what you think)
Even if you say all the right things, you're only halfway to being hired. An at-a-glance guide to sending the right signals for success. by Paul Bibeau (Reprinted with permission - article appeared in the June 1998 issue of Mademoiselle)
You just got the call from the office where you interviewed last week. Your resume was good and your credentials were sterling - but you didn't make the cut. What happened?
In the pressure-cooker world of the job interview, where you have about half an hour to convince someone to pick you, sometimes it boils down to a "vibe" you give off. Here is where body language - the signals you send through your posture and gestures - comes into play. In a study conducted by anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell, Ph.D., people watching a verbal exchange between two other people based 65 percent of their impression on the nonverbal signals exchanged. "If a person's body language contradicts her words, people will tend to believe what they see," says Hilka Klinkenberg, author of At Ease....Professionally (Bonus Books, 1992), and managing director of Etiquette International, a New York City consulting firm. Just follow the steps below, and you'll soon be emitting a crystal-clear message that says, "Hire me."
Prepare Yourself for the Big Day.
And wear your new suit once or twice beforehand, to get comfortable in it. Finally, practice your handshake. When you shake hands with someone for the first time, don't try to wow her with your firm grip; gauge how your shakee does it and gently match her squeeze. "People always consider themselves the yardstick for what's normal," says Donald Moine, Ph.D., president of the Association for Human Achievement, a consulting firm in Palos Verdes, California. By copying your interviewer's grip, you will appear solid and friendly - an ideal choice for someone who will sit in the office next door.
Don't be a slouch.
Avoid the evil eye.
Make your hands talk, not yell.
And one more tip about fingers: Don't point. It reminds people of being scolded, says Klinkenberg. Use your whole hand and gesture with an open palm when you need to indicate something - like the interviewer's diploma on the wall, your resume or the car you'll win if you pick what's behind curtain number three.
Get a leg up on the competition.
By themselves, these moves are obviously no substitute for education and experience. But in the business world, where companies will be comparing you with other equally qualified candidates, body language could give you the edge you need to get your foot - and the rest of you - in the door.
Three Lie Detectors
We know you're honest. And you know you're honest. But if you break into a barrage of facial tics, the interviewer is not going to be so convinced. Here are the top dishonesty flags; avoid them, and you'll look cleaner than a preacher's daughter.
TOUCHING YOUR FACE. Scratching around the mouth or cheek area is considered a dead giveaway that you are lying. And even under the best of circumstances, it looks kinda weird and gross. "There is nothing good you can do with your hands above the chin during an interview," says Dr. Hogan.
CROSSING YOUR ARMS. People read this as a defensive, nervous gesture. You might not feel this way; it might simply be a position you find comfortable. But perceptions are what count here.
BREAKING EYE CONTACT. You don't have to stare, but it's important to look your interviewer in the eye when she's asking you a question. Shifting your gaze suggests that you have qualms about what she's saying. Once the interviewer is finished, it's okay to look away momentarily before answering, as long as your eyes come back when you start speaking again.