Making an Entrance

The interview begins the second you are on the company’s premises. You don’t know who could be in the car park with you, looking at you from a window or walking up the stairs next to you. Your body language should tell anyone who might be watching that you’re confident and calm. It’s not the time to be frantically searching through your portfolio for documents or sprinting upstairs.

First Impressions

Hiring managers often ask receptionists for their take on people who come to the office for interviews, so again appear calm and confident. Greet the receptionist in a friendly yet professional manner, knowing the full name of who you are meeting.

While waiting, don’t hunch your shoulders or tuck your chin into your chest, which will make you seem closed off. Sit with your back straight and your chest open — signs that you’re confident and assertive. But don’t take this to the extreme elongating your legs or throwing your arm across the back of the chair which can make you appear too comfortable, even arrogant.

Don’t have too much stuff with you so that you’re clumsily moving everything aside when you’re called. You want to rise gracefully, without dropping things, so you can smoothly greet the person coming to get you.

No Wet Fishes Please

Job interviews mean handshakes — so what are the secrets to the perfect handshake? Well nobody wants to be greeted by a limp, wet, handshake that feels like you are holding a fish, so keep your palms exposed when waiting in reception and practice a firm handshake with a friend prior to the interview. This is not to be a death grip either leaving your interviewer’s hand throbbing for the day, find the right balance. Never cover the other person’s hand with the hand you’re not shaking with; this can be interpreted as a sign of domination.

At the Interview Desk

In the interview room, it’s OK to place a slim portfolio on the table if you’ll be presenting its contents, but put your other belongings on the floor beside you. Holding a briefcase or handbag on your lap will make you seem as though you’re trying to create a barrier around yourself, communicating that you are cautious.

Avoid leaning forward or folding your arms, which makes you appear closed off. Instead, sit up straight and display your neck, chest and stomach area — to signal that you’re open.

When gesturing with your hands, you should always keep them above the desk and below the collarbone. Any higher and you’re going to appear frantic.

Keep good eye contact, trying not to stare the interviewer out of it either. If there are two people interviewing you this is a perfect way to break contact with one and make contact with the other, this can also be done if one is taking notes just make sure you are looking at the crown of the person’s head and not down at their notes; you don’t want to be prying.

The Art of Departing

At the end of the interview, gather your belongings calmly, rise smoothly, smile and nod your head. Firm handshake again with all your interviewers, a discreet wipe of your palm on your trouser leg prior may be advised if you have sweaty palms after an intense interview.

You may be tempted to try to read your interviewers’ body language for signals about how the interview went, but don’t, they’re likely trained not to give away too much. Don’t allow any thoughts into your mind that may cause you to leave the interview in a negative way. Keep your composure until you have left the premises.

Watch Ted Talks sensation, Amy Cuddy, who has over 25 million views on the benefits of incorporating some of these body language tips into your everyday life: Amy Cuddy – TED Talk


Kirby Brennan

Recruitment Consultant

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group