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Body language in the job interview

handshakeYour CV is nearly flawless and your outfit was perfect. You came prepared and answered all questions, you talked about your strengths and weaknesses and all in all, the interview went well. But then you are rejected. What went wrong?

The reason you didn’t land the job may have been something you showed rather than did. Many job seekers underestimate the power of their body language. A new survey reveals the top ten body language mistakes job seekers make during job interviews that could cost them the job as well as factors that may increase one’s odds of getting hired. The result in short: Job seekers with shifty eyes, reluctant smiles and limp handshakes may have more trouble landing a job.

When asked to identify the biggest body language turnoffs in job interviews, employers pointed to the following:

1. Failure to make eye contact – 83 per cent

2. Weak handshake – 54 per cent

3. Failure to smile – 48 per cent

4. Crossing your arms over your chest – 41 per cent

5. Playing with something on the table – 40 per cent

6. Playing with your hair or touching your face – 36 per cent

7. Fidgeting too much in your seat – 34 per cent

8. Bad posture – 32 per cent

9. Using too many hand gestures – 13 per cent

10. Handshake that is too strong – 6 per cent

“Employers are evaluating the whole package during job interviews and the non-verbal cues job candidates give can be very influential on the hiring decision,” said Tony Roy, president of CareerBuilder EMEA. “That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly prepare for anticipated questions and ask friends and family to provide feedback on how you are presenting yourself. Practice means more confidence in your delivery and less anxiety that can lead to mishaps.”

The study also asked employers to identify factors that would them more likely to offer a position to one candidate over another equally qualified candidate. Responses included:

  • The candidate with the better sense of humor – 35 per cent
  • The candidate who is better dressed – 28 per cent
  • The candidate who is involved in his/her community – 24 per cent
  • The candidate who is more on top of current affairs and pop culture – 18 per cent
  • The candidate who is more physically fit – 16 per cent
  • The candidate who is bilingual – 14 percent
  • The candidate who is more involved in social media – 9 per cent

To avoid body language faux pas during interviews, CareerBuilder recommends:

Stay calm. Help to manage nerves by leaving your home with plenty of time to get to the interview, avoid caffeine and take deep breaths.

Practice, practice, practice. Do your homework on the company, rehearse responses to common questions and come armed with examples of your accomplishments.

See for yourself. Practice interview responses in front of a mirror or videotape yourself to see first-hand how you come across to the interviewer and adjust body language as necessary.

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RSS Feed for This Post4 Comment(s)

  1. daniel | Aug 26, 2011 | Reply

    This is really interesting, if you go to an interview so well prepared but then let yourself down by not shaking the interviewees hand well. I think it is important to see the whole job interview process as a performance and you need to present yourself in the best way possible.

  2. BigD | Aug 26, 2011 | Reply

    Most of the items are measurable so candidates have some idea what to do/not do but what constitutes a weak handshake or one that is too strong? Having encounterd interviewers who obviously varied from a little old lady near retirement to a man who obviously either played a sport like rugby or ‘worked out’ there are sometimes obvious visual clues to what the handshae recipient might be expecting. But what if they are not there?

    The bad posture problem is not always under a candidate’s full control. For example being interviewed in a room that is not big enough for the table that has been put in it can put a candidate in a dilema between being interviewed in discomfort or asking for the table to be moved a bit and squashing the interviewers.

    Has considered surveying candidates on the interviewer pre interviewe and during interview actions/inactions that can put candidates off?

  3. Anthea Sullivan | Aug 26, 2011 | Reply

    Apart from all of the above I would also like to add that it is the company and interviewer (possibly will be be your line manager) that are also at interview (with you). It is also your chance to see whether you would like to work for them and understand and like their policies as well. It is a relationship and whilst they may like you and can see you doing the job can you honestly say the same. Remember it is a joint venture and it is not weighted on the interviewer’s side in the long term.

  4. Michael | Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    I wonder why employers are more interested in all these nonsense staffs than good qualifications.
    Dressing smartly is OK. Participating in your local community seems also OK but most employers don’t give any respect to these good character. I worked for one year and two months in my local NHS hospital as a Volunteer but I found this no use at all. I applied five times to the same NHS hospital that I volunteered for and I was not given any chance at all. I was rather bullied.

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