One of biggest things that stands in the way of you and the job you want is your non-verbal communication. Within as little as a tenth of a second your body language, facial expressions, breathing, gestures and paralanguage or the way you speak has revealed valuable information about your personality, confidence and emotions. Here are the job interview body language mistakes to avoid if you want to nail that dream job.
Before you’ve even had a chance to say “ hello “ your non-verbal communication has revealed who you are and how you feel. This information helps others make a snap subconscious decision about you. Your likeability, competence, personality, sociability and even your ability to persuade. It’s also a main factor in whether you make it to the interview shortlist, or not.
So why are some people masters of the job interview, whilst others aren’t? The main reason is fear.
Job Interview Fear
Fear can be triggered for many reasons, particularly if you’re feeling afraid or completely our of your comfort zone. The heightened emotional and negative arousal you experience in these situations can be difficult to control and take a lot of cognitive resources to hide successfully.
The good news is, that with a few simple changes to your body language, breathing and thoughts you can avoid these body language mistakes in your next job interview.
These non-verbal signs project doubt and insecurity and reveal that you’re feeling uncomfortable and less than confident and should be avoided in your next job interview.
Top top job interview body language mistakes to avoid:
- Withdrawal The first body language mistake and one of the most common involves withdrawal. Fear can throw us into fight or flight mode as we try and get away from an uncomfortable situation.Avoiding eye contact, burying our palms, turning our legs or torso towards the door, or using arm barriers in an attempt to create emotionL and physical distance.A hand or partial hand over the mouth or a nose as someone speaks is also a sign withdrawal and can be a subconscious attempt to ‘block’ out what they’re saying. Slouching, ducking of the head and turtling of the neck are other common signs of withdrawal and subconscious protection mechanisms that suggest emotional discomfort and vulnerability. Projecting non-verbal confidence is one of the key factors in determining who gets hired. Accounting for nearly 50% of interviewer ratings of potential candidates. On the other hand, withdrawal projects doubt and insecurity and makes it more difficult to build rapport and connect with those around you.
- Facial Expressions That Reveal Discomfort and Negative Emotional Arousal Now it’s probably not surprising that one of the most obvious sources of emotional discomfort cues is your face.The face is directly connected to your limbic or emotional brain making it difficult to keep your face relaxed when your emotions are heightened or you’re feeling really nervous or out of your depth. Luckily, our faces are a dual system and can produce facial expressions that lie and tell the truth (voluntary and involuntary expressions) simultaneously.While emotional arousal causes facial muscles to fire, resulting in fleeting facial expressions or micro-expressions that last only a fraction of a second, these signals are often covered up by a smile. The easiest facial expression to fake.
- Disappearing Lipsand Lip Biting Disappearing lipsand lip biting are also a subconscious response to stress and anxiety, and a reliable indication of negative emotion and that something is wrong. The more pronounced the downward turn of the mouth, the more distressed a person is.But they’re not the only signs of distress.
- Rubbing the Tongue Inside the Mouth and Licking of the LipsRubbing the tongue inside the mouth and licking of the lips are pacifying gestures used to comfort during times of stress. Whilst lip pursing indicates disagreement.
- The Freeze Response with Little or no Gesturing or AnimationDiscomfort can also trigger the fear/freeze response causing a person to become frozen in fear, less animated and with no or minimal gesturing.
- The Use of Manipulators and Comforting Gestures We’re all different and whilst some people freeze when they’re nervous, others do the exact opposite adopting manipulators or comforting gestures to help soothe their anxiety.These comforting gestures include fidgeting, wringing of the hands or rubbing of the legs and are a form of self-touch that release feel good hormones to help soothe our nerves. However, they’re also a clear indicator that you’re not comfortable and project doubt, introversion and insecurity and sometimes deceit.The more uncomfortable we are, the more fidgeting, jiggling, touching and rubbing you’re likely to see. The good news is that manipulators are easily controlled. Particularly if you focus on positive thoughts.
- Forgetting to Breathe Emotional arousal and nerves can also cause many involuntary changes that can be more difficult to control. Negative emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, shame and distress can stimulate the sympathetic system or fight and flight response causing increases in breathing rate and sweating.
- Excessive Swallowing Fear can also cause a decrease in saliva leading to a dry mouth. So avoid subconscious attempts to lubricate such as excessive swallowing. Breathing deeply and keeping hydrated will help keep this under control.
- Leg Comforting Gestures Last but not least, whilst most people concentrate on controlling the face and upper body, it’s actually the legs and feet that give us invaluable information about what someone is really feeling because they’re one of the last parts of our body that we consciously control.Locked ankles, a sudden leg cross, comforting gestures (such as twisting feet around the chair) and other signs of withdrawal, tension and jiggling project discomfort and a lack of confidence and should be avoided. Instead, put your best foot forward by keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground facing your interviewer.
A Quick Fix
One of the easiest way to keep your body language in check is to adopt the power pose and focus on the positive. Simply pull your shoulders back, uncross your arms, legs and feet, lift your chin, take two deep breaths, make eye contact and smile and think the words “I’ve got this”. You’ll send out positive non-verbal signals that say, “I’m the best person for the job.”