Welcome back to our second blog! Since our first blog on dressing for interviewing was so popular, we decided to expound on a few more critical points for expressing yourself when meeting people for the first time! We all want to make a good impression when interviewing or meeting other people with whom we hope to work but even once we’ve worked out what we want to say, we have to remain aware of what we are saying with our body language. Body language gives us insight into people’s intentions, motivations, and emotions.
We think most of us have experienced a situation where someone says something like, “I love that movie,” and then rolls their eyes. If we were unable to see the eye roll, we would perceive the message differently than if we did see it. While that is an extreme example, it paints a picture that our non-verbal language says almost as much as our verbal communication does, so we want to be aware of it! Making eye contact is generally considered to be an important part of displaying engagement in a conversation. When someone is speaking to you, listen intently and make sure to maintain eye contact to display your interest. When you have the chance to respond, make sure that you return the favor, and use the chance to gauge your audience’s reaction to your statements. The wise communicator will feed off of the audience’s positive reactions to steer the conversation to a great endpoint!
We can’t talk about interviewing and body language without addressing the handshake. Some people feel very strongly that your handshake says a lot about you. In the American culture, extending your hand and engaging in friendly acquaintance with the person you are meeting is considered polite. However, some people feel the need to make a statement with their handshake that you won’t forget. We are personally not a fan of the “bone crusher” handshake. While this is purely opinion, we would say that, as a general rule, you don’t want to be remembered negatively for hurting someone with your handshake. That’s true for many things with interviewing-you don’t want to be remembered for asking crazy questions that aren’t applicable, for wearing something inappropriate, or for being late or unprepared. But for handshakes, we encourage you to think about the intent- generally it is to greet someone with a friendly gesture. Therefore, it is inappropriate to squeeze someone til their fingers pop…no need to assert your power over them, that isn’t the message you want to send.
Another common gesture Leaf 2 is guilty of is crossing her arms. We think it is comfortable, and we are always cold to some extent it is practical. However, we don’t ever want for someone to think we are not interested in talking, or that we’re closed off to collaboration. A better alternative to crossing your arms is to put one arm behind your back (see picture), or clasp both hands behind the backside in an effort to appear respectful (and to preserve that body heat and keep you from fidgeting with your fingers/pen).
Remember that non verbal communication differs with language and cultural backgrounds, so your non verbal baseline might differ from that of others. In that case, displaying awareness and cultural sensitivity is the key to communicating in a way that everyone understands!
Want to give your 2 cents about interviewing gestures? Any tips you have for keeping yourself from fidgeting or engaging in inadvertent bad non verbal habits? Share with us below or on our Instagram account ileaf.blog! The more we talk about it, the more viewpoints we all have to build our interviewing expertise.