If you've been unsuccessful in job interviews in the past, have you ever considered that your body might have lost you the job?
Now before anyone takes that statement the wrong way, we're talking specifically about your body language here. While your mouth was selling yourself, were your limbs reinforcing that message, or were they undermining it?
We asked Vinny Kelly, Managing Director of Tactical Talent Recruitment, a Dublin-based specialist sales recruitment agency, for a few tips on how body language can help or hinder you when going for a new job. Vinny has interviewed thousands of candidates over the years and can help candidates find their next role in sales. According to the specialist sales recruiter: "So much of your attitude is conveyed in your body language and your attitude is crucial to getting hired. In fact, 'hire for attitude' has become a recruitment mantra."
Here are a few useful tips that are well worth keeping in mind when you're in your next interview...
Give 'em a hand
When you're nervous you tend to hide your hands, which can make you look untrustworthy, so consciously try to gesture with your hands during the conversation to show your unafraid to reveal yourself.
And make sure you palms are turned upwards, as this suggests openness and honesty.
Shake on it
You want to make as big an impression on your interviewers as possible and one way to achieve that is by simply making sure to shake their hands upon meeting them and as you leave.
A firm shake forms a bond, makes you appear friendly and confident — all valuable traits in a prospective employee.
"Try to match the pressure of the person you’re shaking hands with and maintain good eye contact throughout," advises Vinny. "Avoid at all costs ‘the bone cruncher’ and the ‘wet fish’, which are hopefully self-explanatory and the two most unpopular handshakes I know of."
We're telling you, people love the hands on approach.
Don't forget to breathe
Well this is just a good tip for living in general.
One tried and tested method of taking conscious control of your anxiety levels is by focussing on your breathing.
Take the wheel on your nerves by taking deep breathes and speaking on the exhale. You'll find that you're back in control in a jiffy.
Keep your feet on the ground
Strange as it may seem, because of the wiring of the human brain you actually think clearer when both your feet are on the floor.
When anxiety sets an instinctive reaction can be to clam up: fold your arms, hunch your shoulders and cross your legs — resist that temptation. Stay as open as possible, plant your feet on the ground and don't fidget.
If you must cross something, cross your ankles, as you can reposition them without making a noticeable distraction to your interviewers.
Sit up straight
We hate to admit it, but your mam was right all those years ago.
Slouching sends out the message that you want to slink out of view and take it easy... I mean, you clearly don't even want to expend enough energy to keep your own body erect! Not exactly impressive stuff.
According to Vinny, "you’ll feel more confident if your posture is upright, your head is held high and try to keep those shoulders down. People tend to hold a lot of tension in their shoulders and a conscious effort to keep them relaxed will make for a more easy-going and confident interview all round."
Imagine there's a string from your head connected to the ceiling that's pulled tight in order to achieve the proper posture and appear more self-assured.
Lean and not-so-mean
While keeping your posture, lean forward slightly every now and again when your interviewer is speaking to you.
You want to appear interested in what they have to say, not as if you're just there to deliver lines from a predetermined script.
Nod and smile
Again, this is about being seen to be absorbing what your interviewer is saying to you.
"You don’t want to appear like a nodding dog, but regular nods of the head towards the interviewer who is speaking will be appreciated," suggests Vinny. "Research has shown that listeners nodding in agreement positively influence the speaker by demonstrating interest and a positive attitude."
If your body is clearly conveying that you're listening, engaged, interested and giving passionate responses, you're doing your interview right.