Though Henry Higgins always insisted speaking correctly was the most important thing, others would argue that you can say a lot but if your shoulders are slumped and your hands are all over the place, no one really cares. It all comes down to body language. As renowned body language expert, Harvard Business School professor, and TED Talk legend Amy Cuddy (check out her Levo course here) states, your body language can literally change the chemicals in your body (that's why you've probably seen some people doing the Wonder Woman pose in the office bathroom.)
Body language is especially important during a job interview. It can truly make or break you. Senior managers surveyed by OfficeTeam said 30% of candidates display negative body language during interviews. "Providing thoughtful responses and asking intelligent questions carry a lot of weight during a job interview, but your body language can also speak volumes," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. "Candidates need to do everything they can to increase their chances of receiving an offer — and that includes avoiding negative and distracting nonverbal behaviors."
According to their survey, there are several common off-putting physical habits people tend to display in interviews. Here's how to avoid them—and own the interview.
Find Your Eye Contact Comfort Zone
Eye contact is a delicate dance: you don't want to completely ignore the person you are talking to but you also can't stare too aggressively. The key is to maintain regular eye contact during the meeting, while still looking away occasionally.
Straighten Yourself Up, Literally
As Cuddy taught us, your physical posture can actually change how not only people perceive you, but also how you feel. A study found that people who sat up straight were more likely to believe the positive comments they wrote about their qualifications for a job. Those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept their own statements as valid.
Smile Like You Mean It
According to the survey, several candidates forget to smile. Smiling conveys warmth, trustworthiness, and enthusiasm, but it can also come across as forced if you're not really feeling it. Even if you're nervous, try to picture something that makes you content (the internet is filled with fuzzy, animal inspiration), and let that genuine smile come across. It can make a real difference.
Relax Those Hands
Do you need a fidget spinner? No. According to OfficeTeam, you need to resist the urge to shake your legs, tap your fingers or twirl your pen. It's fine to use hand gestures, as long as they're not distracting. Keep your arms uncrossed to appear more open and receptive.
...Except When You're Shaking Somebody Else's
Helen Keller once said, “I can feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake.” A handshake can say a lot about a person, so you need to make it a good one. A firm grip conveys strength and warmth, putting people at ease.
Spread Yourself Out
One bad habit that wasn't in the survey but is super important is physically condensing. This is a trait especially seen among women in the workplace. Men manspread while women actually make themselves smaller. You can nonverbally demonstrate your equal authority by taking up more physical space.
(Image via Getty)