How much of our communication is nonverbal? The answer may surprise you: according to one study from Columbia University, the answer may be as high as 93 percent. This means that, while having great answers prepared for your interview can help you succeed, knowing what your dress, demeanor, and body language are saying even when you are silent.
To improve the messages you send in your next interview, think about these four nonverbal cues:
What You Wear
Clothing sends a message, regardless of the context. When you prepare for an interview, find out how to dress appropriately for interviews in your field and tailor your clothing choices accordingly, whether that means wearing a suit or opting for business casual. No matter what you wear, make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and free of loose threads, missing buttons, or other problems.
As you dress, don’t overlook the rest of your appearance, including your hair, face, nails, and the condition of your shoes and any accessories.
How You Treat Others
First impressions matter. When you enter an interview, you begin making your first impression the moment you step in the door. Treat receptionists and other “initial contacts” politely and professionally. As you wait for your interview, use the time to read available information about the company or look over your paperwork, but don’t spend it playing on your phone or holding personal conversations in the waiting room.
A Strong Handshake
A weak handshake sends a message of fear or insecurity, while a strong handshake says just the opposite. Channel any nervousness you feel into cementing your confident first impression by giving a strong handshake, accompanied by eye contact and a smile with the hiring manager whose hand you are shaking.
Confident Body Language
Not only is most communication nonverbal, but the human brain is wired to receive most of its information visually. Body language that communicates fear or discomfort, like crossed legs, hunched shoulders, ducking the head, or wringing the hands all says that you’re trying to take up less room because, somewhere inside, you feel like you don’t belong.
Combat this message by sending one that says you’re confident and happy to be at the interview: sit up straight, with your feet on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. Rest your hands or use them moderately while you talk to illustrate or emphasize key points in your speech. Modulate eye contact with the person to whom you’re speaking: you’ll be able to tell if you have their interest while also communicating your own.