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Let your body speak for you


By Harsha Gordhan


Job hunting is a tough job all on its own. What is said, how it is said, body movements and feelings on the day all contribute to the manner in which people relate to each other in a job interview. Body language is an important aspect of portraying a confident persona. Follow the guidelines below and forget about being nervous.

What is body language?
According to www.dictionary.com, body language is “nonverbal, usually unconscious, communication through the use of postures, gestures, facial expressions, and the like”.

First impressions last
Your appointment with a recruiter or potential employer may be for a specific time, but from the moment you step on company ground, someone’s watching you. Natalie Vassard from Durban-based recruitment agency Schlemmer & Associates suggests arriving 10 minutes ahead of your appointment to ensure you are not stressed when getting to the meeting place. This will give you time to settle in and inform the front desk that you have arrived. “When you first meet your interviewer, greet them with a smile,” Vassard says. This shows that you are interested and friendly – which may count in your favour if the job involves working in a team. These simple acts set the tone for a productive meeting.

Physical expression
Marisa Peer, a behavioural and body language expert, lends some advice on how to interact confidently with others. “Always keep your shoulders down as this is the mark of someone who is relaxed,” she says. In an interview, keep your hands and body still. “Calm, confident people don’t jiggle their hands and feet, or tap their fingers, or rock with their body,” Peer says. Strength and composure are shown in stillness in body language, so limbs should be kept stationary during the interview process. Sometimes you can’t help being nervous. This may lead to a dry mouth. Peer recommends keeping your mouth moist by filling it up with saliva (it may sound gross, but this immediately sends a message to your body that you are calm).

Peer goes on to say, “Lean forward when your interviewer is asking you a question so you appear interested in what they are saying.” Mirroring your interviewer’s body language helps to create a rapport with them. For example, if their legs are crossed, cross yours. If they talk about how things look, use the same terminology: “yes, I see that”. If they say that sounds right, use the same language: “I hear that” or “it sounds like a good idea”.

Mental confidence
As important as body language is, another contributing factor to exuding confidence is mental attitude. Cape Town-based career facilitator and industrial psychologist Ann Werner explains that mental attitude is both subconscious and conscious. “On a subconscious level it is the assurance and knowledge that this is the work you want to do and a position that you feel that you will be successful in,” says Werner. This subconscious understanding provides you with an inherent confidence. Werner goes on to say, “On the other hand, a conscious mental attitude pertains to the reality of the situation.” Having a good conscious mental attitude means that you have done your research on the company; you have an understanding of its mission statement, value and culture; and lastly, you have prepared thoroughly for the interview. Werner suggests you can prepare by jotting down some notes on your reason for applying, a brief description of yourself, your strengths, your developmental areas, how you can add value to the position and why you think you should get the job.

Entering the workforce can be overwhelming, but with the right tools, anything can be accomplished. It’s time to get out there and put theory into practice!

Schlemmer & Associates, recruitment specialists: Schlemmer & Associates
Marisa Peer’s latest book is titled Ultimate Confidence. For more information, visit: Ultimate Confidence
Ann Werner, career facilitator and industrial psychologist: Career Creations