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Smooth Moves: Body Language That Gets You Hired

Even the Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies of the world can’t get everything they want on looks alone. Sure, some of that physical attractiveness counts, but what counts even more is your subliminal body language. Even if people don’t realize it, body language is what creates the vibes people love. These five moves will get a potential employer hooked on you in one sitting.

1. Maintain Good Eye Contact
Eye contact is huge. Imagine talking to someone who never looked at you, not even once. Rather, he scanned the room with his eyes—the walls, the floor, the ceiling—anything but you. Would you feel like he was listening? Even an unusually long look in the other direction would throw the whole conversation off.

Good eye contact establishes rapport. The listener should be giving more eye contact than the person speaking, as if receiving the information not simply by listening, but through sight as well, which is what the body language should convey.

Be careful, though; being too intense can have the opposite effect. Try to maintain good contact throughout about 70 percent of the conversation. Gentleman, the ladies are a lot better about making eye contact when listening, so if you’re having issues, watch the way they do it. Many have it down to an art.

2. Posture: Not the Time to Practice Your Gangster Lean
A confident, able individual has good posture, and a slouch creates the impression that you are unorganized, unambitious, and undisciplined. Good posture says a lot about someone, so this is something you should work on long before you walk into an interview. Use posture exercises to learn how to master this skill.

Also, a good listener leans towards the speaker, as if trying to get closer. This is a temporary submissive gesture to ease the exchange of ideas. Don’t get so far up in your interviewer’s grill that she can diagnose your halitosis; just lean forward a bit as if making a conscious effort to hear her words.

When it’s your turn to speak, remain in a more neutral position. Don’t lean back as if you own the place or you might seem unnecessarily arrogant. Sit up straight and save the leaning for when you’re listening.

3. Nod Your Head
Keeping your chin up and your head level is a good way to convey inner confidence. When you’re listening, tilt your head slightly, and as long as you agree with what your interviewer is saying, give an occasional nod to show that you’re following along. If you don’t agree with something, be careful about nodding to show you’re listening, because it’s generally regarded as a signal of consensus.

This is another area where women do better than men. It really does pay to watch a woman’s body language at work, fellas. They’re much better at expressing themselves physically than we are. And they’re fabulous listeners.

Watch a female social butterfly at work. Great eye contact, the nodding head, and leaning in toward the speaker—they seem to have it down to an art, but it simply comes naturally to them.

4. Flash a Nice, Toothy Grin
An animated face is an important part of being appealing. No one likes to talk with someone who seems to be in a somber mood, never smiles, and conveys no personality with her expressions. Don’t go with the orangutan look or the cheeseburger grin, but when you smile, smile with enthusiasm. The last thing you want to do is fake your emotions, as it’s impossible to force a smile with your eyes.

Show off those pearly whites, too; just make sure you pick that big green chunk of wheat grass out from between your two front teeth before the interview. This is not a good way to show your potential boss you’re getting your veggies.

5. Proximity
Standing closer to someone also creates rapport, but this is a dangerous one because getting too close too quickly will make many people extremely uncomfortable. It’s best to try closing the distance naturally a little at a time and judge your interviewer’s reaction.

This can be really tricky in intercultural communication. Americans, for instance, tend to keep a lot more distance between each other when speaking, while certain other cultures, —like those in the Middle East, for example—will often get right up in your face.

If someone starts stepping backwards, do not try to close the gap again—you may even want to step back a little yourself to show you’re not trying to overcompensate and that you know the boundaries have been crossed. If he or she turns and starts running toward the nearest exit, please don’t chase them. They do not want to play.

This is just a brief rundown of some ways that body language conveys messages to the people we meet. If you want to bring an edge to an interview like no other applicant can, saying more is not the key, at least not with your lips. But a simple change in body language can create a lasting impression that doesn’t go away.

Originally published on New Grad Life