Who would you believe: Elmo, with his childlike innocence and perennial optimism, singing, “Come on! Wash your hands with Elmo! Wash, wash, wash!” or the Divine “Miss P” trying to stifle a sneeze with her poofy pink boa?
Body language does count. Certainly, it’s not a panacea for lack of skills or experience but, if the hiring manager has to choose between two equally qualified candidates, your wet-fish handshake may seal the deal – and not in your favor.
Your body language mirrors your confidence or lack thereof. Don’t think the interviewer won’t notice if you’re slouching in a chair, open briefcase at your feet and looking like a deer in caught in headlights, while you’re in the waiting room. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to spring out of a chair (as you must to greet the interviewer) with any degree of grace. Even if you could master it, you’d then have to bend over and collect your papers – assuming you have not tripped over them – while the interviewer discreetly tries to dry the residue of moisture from your fishy handshake. It’s much easier and more effective to stand while you are waiting and keep your eyes on the door to the room. That way, when the interviewer walks in the door, you need only take a step or two forward, reach out your dry hand, look the interviewer in the eye and execute a firm handshake while saying hello like you mean it.
Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Don’t let your eyes wander about the room as if you were sizing it up for your office.
Engage in the discussion, and it is a discussion not an interrogation. If you appear bored, your interviewer will be also.
Do not swing your legs over one another and keep swinging. Avoid tapping your feet or your fingers. There’s no need to be nervous. This interview is as much for your sake as it is for the hiring manager’s. It is your opportunity to learn if you like this organization, this job and if it is a good fit.
Try to keep your hands calm. Naturally you’d avoid wild gesticulating to express enthusiasm, but also try to refrain from tugging at your tie or picking at the lint on your dress. There should not be any lint on your dress!
At the end of the interview, stand, shake the manager’s hand again and say thank you – even if you don’t mean it.
You may think this is just a lot of common sense which anyone would know and do, but you’d be amazed at how fast some of the simplest social etiquette flies out the door when you are nervous because you really want this job and are afraid of doing or saying anything that might blow it.
The best way to remain calm and confident is to try and imagine that you are interviewing the hiring manager to learn if this really is the job you want. This should not be too much of a stretch because that is exactly what you are doing!