Job interview: what your body language says about you

Symbolic picture: job interview
Symbolic picture: job interviewdpa

You are well prepared for the conversation that can change your life. The hair is right, the suit anyway. The new job is within reach. Your written documents were convincing, otherwise you wouldn’t be here now – for the interview. You are convincing in interviews, but the interview with potential new bosses does not have to be a sure-fire success. Because it’s not just about words, but also your body language and how you present yourself. Nobody knows this better than the HR managers at the business consultancy KPMG. Here are their tips.

# The handshake

The first impression is known to be the most important. And at the beginning of every conversation there is an obligatory handshake. It tells more about you than you might think. Anyone who has ever had to shake a limp, warm, damp hand knows: it doesn’t feel good. A soft handshake looks shy. In the truest sense of the word “not grabbing” and therefore not assertive. Whoever grabs too tight, however, gives the impression of a ruthless bully and egoist. The mediocrity is the optimum here. And just don’t fall into the Trump trap, don’t want to let go of the other person’s hand. The handshake should be short and firm without squeezing. Eye contact is required for one to two seconds. Do not avoid your gaze, this is also a sign of weakness.

# The drink

If you are offered a drink at the beginning of the conversation, do not decline it. This could be seen as a rejection. You will never go wrong with a glass of water, not even with a coffee. But refrain from special requests. The drink also has a strategic advantage: if you need a little pause for thought, sip your glass or cup, a short pause can be skilfully covered over.

# The sitting position

Naturalness is the key. However, the naturalness must not be confused with slouching. Just don’t fall into the chair with your legs apart. Sit up straight with your back straight, but also not as if you have swallowed a broomstick. That in turn looks unnatural. Put your legs parallel on the floor, women can also cross them. Bend your body slightly forward, this signals determination. Watch your hands while you talk. The person opposite should always be able to see them. That radiates openness. With clenched fists or crossed arms – whether in front of the body or behind the head – and using the index finger, you do not make a good impression. Practice sitting. Observe in advance how you are sitting relaxed, for example at the dining table, when you are talking to family and friends. Speaking of telling: take breaks, catch your breath.

# The interlocutor

Watch your counterpart. How does he behave, what poses does he take, what is his facial expression? With similar gestures and facial expressions, you signal that you are on the same wavelength. But be careful not to ape him.

# The skip act

Of course you are nervous. That is perfectly fine and your counterpart may notice that too. After all, it signals how important you are to take the conversation. However, you should avoid acting like a bundle of nerves, which in turn acts unsupervised. Do not keep touching your ear or chin, playing with your hair or twisting the ring. That looks very unsafe. Pay attention to your skipping acts, reduce them if possible. Or move them to an area that isn’t as obvious as the face.


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