Body language for interviews

Preparing for an interview can be a terrifying event. Preparing what to say, what to wear and worrying about what the interviewer's questions might be.

However, many candidates forget about their body language, which is an extremely important part of an interview. The interviewer will form a subconscious opinion of you within the first five minutes of a meeting, based on cues from your body language.

Here are a number of body language pointers to remember when you are being interviewed.

A good handshake gets you off to a great start. It should be firm without crushing their hand. More than half of managers say they can tell if they want to employ a candidate, based on their handshake. In Britain, a handshake should last for no more than two shakes. Your opposite arm should stay by your side.

Don't fidget
Practice a comfortable way of sitting before you go to the interview. Don't play with your hair, clothes, pen or business card – it will seem as though you are bored and not paying attention. It will also imply nerves. If you're inclined to fidget when nervous, just make sure there's nothing on the desk in front of you once you've sat down! But don't be scared to make gestures with your hands. It's natural to 'talk with your hands' and hiding them can be a sign of distrustful behaviour. Just don't start doing the YMCA dance with your hands.

Don't get defensive
Remember not to cross your arms, although this can be comfortable, it can come across defensive. Arms act as the doorway to the body. Show your interviewer you're open to his or her questions.

Breathing properly will help you calm your nerves, take deep breaths and speak when exhaling.

Sit back in your seat
This will show confidence and presence. If you're a natural sloucher, practice sitting upright a few days before. Make a conscious effort to sit up.

Eye contact
Maintain natural eye contact, and in the case of multiple interviewers look at who is talking to you. When giving your answer shift your gaze between the two (or more) to involve all in the discussion. But don't stare!

Affirmative actions
Use affirmative actions such as nodding and saying 'yes' and 'mmm' as they speak. This will show that you can listen and understand. Nodding your head occasionally, shows the interviewer that you understand what is being said and shows attentiveness.

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