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Verbal communication is not the only way of communicating at an interview. Without being aware of it candidates may end up speaking through their body language and facial expression at an interview more emphatically than through verbal means. Now, this can be to the advantage as well as disadvantage of the candidate. Body language is a very powerful medium of interaction and therefore its all the more important for interview candidates to pay attention to it.

The way to turn body language to your advantage is to exude confidence, friendliness and enthusiasm. There can be many ways of doing that. For instance, always walk into an interview room with straight shoulders and head held high, which will indicate confidence and alertness. While shaking hands with the interviewer be firm without being bone-crushingly strong. Making eye contact with the interviewer is very important, but do not overdo it. Be careful not to stare him down without breaking gaze at all. Nodding along with the recruiter when you agree with him shows attentiveness on your part. Small yet positive details like this can go a long way in impressing the interviewer.

Conversely, negative body language can actually ruin an interview for you. If you walk into the room with slouched shoulders or your head hanging down, it immediately makes a negative impression on the interviewer. Similarly, a limp hand-shake will have the same effect. A fresher may be especially nervous about an interview, but uneasy gestures like playing with their hair or jewelry, or tapping their feet and twitching hands will most likely be a setback for them. Some candidates tend to go on the defensive when they become nervous and convey a feeling of being clamped down, where as it is exactly the opposite impression that one should strive for. Nervous gestures like these will definitely reflect in their facial expression too.

In order to appear positive and upbeat, a candidate must learn to identify the signals he or she is sending. Having done that negative body language should be replaced by positives vibes. This requires a considerable amount of psychological preparation as well. If a candidate has very little self-confidence or holds himself in low esteem, very likely that these sentiments will find their way to the interviewer too. Thus one has to work on both mind and body in order to send positive vibes.

Here are some examples of body language cues and their possible interpretations that candidates going for a job interview should keep in mind:

1. Crossed arms - closed off or defensive

2. Fidgeting, running tongue along teeth, playing with hair or jewelry, or tapping feet - nervous or bored

3. Lack of eye contact or, conversely, staring too intently without breaking a gaze - untrustworthy

4. Clasping hands behind the head while leaning back - looking to gain power

5. Leaning forward - interested in the conversation

6. Smiling or attempting to be humorous - friendly

7. Eye contact with occasional, natural breaks in the stare - focused and curious

8. Nodding while listening - attentive and alert

9. Open palms - approachable and trusting

10. Gesturing with hands while talking - genuinely involved in the conversation


Shilpi Ganguly is a blogger who frequently writes on various topics. Find more of her tips on interview skills
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