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5 Body Language Mistakes That Sabotage Job Interviews



6/19/2013 1:02:49 PM

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5 Body Language Mistakes That Sabotage Job Interviews By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

The dentist’s chair, the doctor’s exam table and the interviewer’s office: these three destinations make all but the coolest and calmest among us apprehensive. There’s nothing unnatural about developing a case of nerves in such situations. Medical professionals won’t hold it against you. But a hiring manager just might, especially in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Whether a job in the biotechnology or medical device field is your ultimate goal, you must exhibit grace under pressure. On the job, you’ll face constant contact with customers—both good and bad. You’ll need to deal with a multitude of personalities, and perform your duties efficiently and accurately at a rapid pace. Those who excel in the industry can handle the stress, but they have to prove it. Start with the body language you present during your job interview. If you make any of these mistakes, it could sabotage your success.

1. Hesitant Handshake

If your palms become sweaty when you’re nervous, you may be inclined to shake hands with your fingers alone. Unfortunately, doing so can trigger a subconscious response in your interviewer, leaving him with the suspicion that you have something to hide. Damp or not, a confident handshake is always best. Ensure you’re making palm-to-palm contact, utilize a firm grasp and don’t forget to smile. Applying a heavy-duty liquid antiperspirant to your palms the morning of your interview may help reduce wetness.

2. Perching or Slouching

How you sit during your interview can also make a subconscious impression on the hiring manager. While you may believe that perching on the edge of the chair conveys eagerness, it can also communicate anxiousness. On the other hand, slouching into your seat can give the impression that you’re too relaxed—causing an interviewer to question your enthusiasm. Experts suggest varying your position during the interview, resting your arms on the armrest or table, and keeping your legs uncrossed with feet firmly on the floor if you want to appear confident and energetic.

3. Frantic Gesticulation

Some of us wave our hands about when we’re speaking with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this can come across as overly nervous—and the wrong motions may even make the hiring manager feel subconsciously threatened. While you want to keep gestures to a minimum, don’t hide your hands under the table or in your pockets to curb movement. Instead, allow them to softly rest upon the table, the armrest or in your lap—but don’t clasp them tightly together. You want to give the impression that you are open, not closed.

4. Too Little (or Too Much) Eye Contact

Making eye contact with your interviewer is important, but you don’t want to lock eyes for an extended period of time or you may come off as aggressive, threatening or too intense. Avoiding eye contact altogether is equally detrimental. Not only will it make you appear distracted and disengaged, it can also suggest that your answers are dishonest. For best results, practice eye contact moderation.

5. Fidgeting

Whether you play with your hair, touch your face, rub your hands together, swing your feet or tap your toe, fidgeting will give the hiring manager the impression that her questions are making you nervous. Even worse, these movements are distracting, and she may miss out on the details of your carefully crafted response as a result.

If you recognize your own errors on this list, don’t worry about lost job opportunities. You can now avoid these body language mistakes in future interviews. The philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Fortunately, you will not be among them.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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