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The Ten Commandments of Positive Body Language

Clare Mullooly

Rory MacLeod/Flickr Rory MacLeod/Flickr

Body language can tell a lot about a person, but what are the right cues and how should ensure you present yourself in a positive light when being interviewed and interviewing a candidate?

Body language is a non-verbal form of communication that we use consciously and subconsciously every day. It is a very powerful interpretation of our inward feelings but is still regarded by many people as an afterthought when compared with verbal communication e.g. speaking.

However 86 percent of body language is non-verbal – get it right and you will be able to persuade your audience that you are sure of what you are saying. Get it wrong and you will seem unconfident.

Body language provides an insight into the state of someone’s mind so it is important for both recruiters and recruits to think about what exactly they are portraying through their body language. Something as simple as a smile or maintained eye contact can help towards building a relationship or improving the means of communication between an employer and a potential employee.

Good use of body language like calm and polite body gestures should be employed to generate positivity and portray a strong impression at interviews or the first day at a job.

Here are the Ten Commandments of generating positive body language and why recruiters and job seekers should be using them to connect:

Thou shalt smile as it doesn’t cost a thing

Candidates should remember to smile as soon as they meet the recruiter and the recruiter should put the interviewee at ease by having a warm facial expression. This should help them to both connect at the start of an interview, which will help to get the best and ease both parties’ nerves.

The candidate should avoid staring back blankly as this will naturally create distance between themselves and the recruiter. Other affirmative movements include nodding your head and laughter but they should only be done when appropriate so the interviewee is able to portray a positive impression.

Thou shalt maintain eye contact

Eye contact should be consistent and recruits should aim to look directly into the recruiter’s eyes to emphasise their confidence. Interviewees should continue to maintain eye contact until the end of their spoken sentence.

They should also not look up to the ceiling or constantly look up and down. It is only natural that both recruiter and recruit may need to pause during the interview so a glance down is acceptable for a few seconds in order to gather thoughts.

Thou shalt not fidget

It is very easy to be tempted into fidgeting with your hands but interviewees should not fall into this trap. A definite 'no-no' is raising your arms past your head and picking at something like fingernails or a piece of clothing.

Confident hand gestures include putting hands into steeples when listening or placing hands at either side. Remember any unnecessary hand movements show a lack of confidence to the recruiter.

Thou shalt give a firm handshake

When meeting for the first time, candidates should always start and end an interview with a firm handshake. A confident handshake is important to get right as it sets the mood for the interview. For video interviews this element is obviously lost but it is still useful to remember for the first day at work.

Thou shalt not cross arms

The interviewer should deter from crossing their arms when the candidate is speaking as this can be off putting and present the impression that you are not very interested. Visa versa, the interviewee should not close themselves off by crossing their arms but instead placing hands in their lap.

Good posture can have an amazing impact on how recruiters perceive you when you first meet them. Always stand or sit up straight with shoulders back to emit a cool and collected image. Also do not cross your legs as it is distracting and shows how uncomfortable you are.

Thou shalt keep your head up

The interviewee should always keep their head upright and look straight towards the interviewer. Looking at the floor will give the impression that you are lost or uninterested, which again links in with eye contact.

Thou shalt take a deep breath

Taking a deep breath is a good idea for the interviewee as it will help to calm nerves and slow down body language. Slower body movements will signal that the candidate is under control and is comfortable with who they are speaking to - the recruiter will be very impressed.

Thou shalt take notes

The recruiter taking notes is a common occurrence during an interview. The candidate can also take notes as it will show the recruiter that they are interested in the conversation. However, the interviewee should take into consideration it is not always the right place to take notes so judge every situation individually.

Thou shalt not sit on the edge of your seat

Sitting on the edge of your seat will indicate to the recruiter that you are mentally on edge. Sit towards the back of the chair and lean slightly forward to show interest in what the recruiter is saying.

Either as a recruiter or a recruit, if you are new to the concept of positive body language then it may take some time for you to perfect the commandments. However practice makes perfect and it will soon be apparent how a few body language changes can solidify a strong relationship with the intended audience.

Clare Mullooly