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You finally got the call back for that IT job interview you’ve been hoping to get for the last two weeks! You know how important it is to practice your answers so you don’t get tongue tied and review your resume so you can cite specific work examples, but how else should you prepare?
In a job interview, your answers might say one thing to a potential employer, but your body might send a completely different message. From the moment you walk through the door, your body language can tell a lot about you—how confident, nervous or professional you are, your mood or even how much sleep you got the night before. It’s important to be aware of your intentional, and unintentional, body language and understand how your nonverbal communication can actually be leveraged to help strengthen your interviewing skills.
Whether you’re a recent graduate new to the business world or a seasoned IT professional looking for your next career opportunity, here are five tips to keep in mind on your next interview:
1. Give a firm handshake
An initial handshake at the start of the interview can be a very telling reflection of your self-assurance and charisma. A solid, professional handshake is firm, incorporates steady eye contact, is appropriate in length and accompanied by a smile. A weak or limp handshake could be interpreted by an interviewer as a sign that you lack confidence, while too strong of a handshake could give the impression that you’re disingenuous or trying to overcompensate for something. The perfect handshake will exude confidence and sincerity which will help set a positive tone for the rest of the interview. It will also help establish credibility and a sense of trustworthiness early on that will help put you and the interviewer more at ease.
2. Be poised
It’s important to maintain good posture throughout an interview, making sure you sit up straight and keep your arms unfolded. Folded arms could be an inadvertent sign of disinterest or laziness that might not bode well for some interviewers. Sitting tall and leaning slightly forward helps demonstrate you’re engaged and interested in what the interviewer is saying. One popular TED talk on body language, given by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, suggests that taking a “high-power” pose—standing up tall with confidence and taking up more physical space—before heading into an interview can actually help make you more comfortable and from a physical perspective, positively affect hormones associated with feelings of nervousness, confidence and success. A confident stance during an interview will help convey authenticity, enthusiasm and higher overall engagement, key traits prospective employers are looking for in candidates.
3. Take your time and breathe
Maintaining composure and speaking slowly will help suppress interview jitters as you navigate your way through tough questions. Steady breathing will help give you time to hear a question in its entirety and formulate a succinct answer. Some experts recommend inhaling while listening to an interviewer’s question and answering while exhaling so constant air flow powers your response. No matter your technique, try to relax and don’t rush through your answers. Interviewers will appreciate a well thought-out answer even if it means taking a few extra seconds to gather your thoughts.
4. Make eye contact
Eye contact is a powerful element of a successful job interview. It conveys to the interviewer that you are engaged and interested in what they’re saying. It also helps an interviewer see you as personable and confident. Too much eye contact could have negative ramifications and make an interviewer feel uncomfortable, but not enough could make you look disengaged, inattentive or insincere, so striking the right balance is key.
5. Wear appropriate clothes
This should be a no brainer but due to the varying degrees of fashion awareness, what constitutes as “professional” might be drastically different from person to person. Do some research to learn what types of business attire might be most appropriate for your interview and the company. You can also simply ask the HR person, recruiter or even the hiring manager to get the clearest answer, as a recent Forbes article suggests. No matter your final decision, make sure your outfit fits well so you look polished and professional, though be comfortable (that doesn’t mean baggy clothes!) so you don’t fidget during the interview.
Having an impressive resume helps open the door for that coveted interview, but the more you know about the interviewing process and how to hone your nonverbal communication to your benefit, the better you will be positioned to land the IT job of your dreams!
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As a member of the TEKsystems’ marketing communications team, Susan Hering helps develop and write strategic marketing collateral, including brochures, case studies and presentations. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time outdoors.