Like the old adage says, a first impression is everything. It can make or break most aspects of your career journey, from your interview to your first day on the job. And, while your resume, cover letter, and interview performance are important, they aren’t the only things that your interviewer is using to judge your capability. Your nonverbal communication (that is, the way your actions, look, and clothing work into cultural standards) is also a key factor in that all-important snap judgment on your character.
Here are the different ways that your nonverbal communication can affect your first impression, and how to ensure it’s in top shape before your next interview.
Body language speaks volumes
The way your body is positioned and moves can be a significant indicator of your professionalism and general personality. But, this doesn’t just mean the way you stand. Anything from your hand gestures to spatial positioning to head-nodding can show you as a confident, capable potential hire.
There are some quick, easy changes to begin incorporating into your meetings to best utilize your body language. Be sure your toes are pointed toward whomever you’re speaking with to indicate your interest in their thoughts, and use your hands to accentuate your points, as research has shown that people who talk with their hands are more intriguing and appear more trustworthy. Then, begin working on some more nuanced indicators. Try to use your body language to prove that you’re actively listening to the other person; nod your head and lean in a bit so it’s clear that you’re thinking about their points thoroughly. Making these small changes in your conversations can help you come across as thoughtful and passionate, two traits that are highly sought-after in the career field.
Appearance can signal confidence
The majority of first impressions rely on physical appearance– over half, in fact– so you want to be sure yours is a good signal of your maturity. Be sure your outfit matches that of the office you’ll be entering, while still professional. Before entering the building, try checking out the company’s Instagram or Facebook to see the office culture and show the interviewer you’d be able to fit in.
It’s not just important to look confident, however; you also have tofeelconfident in the way you look. No matter how put-together you appear, a lack of confidence can make you withdraw from conversations, use closed-off body language, or feel unable to advocate for yourself genuinely. If there’s anything that eats away at your self-esteem, address it! Whether it’s ill-fitting clothes or a more personal issue like a receding hairline or clammy hands, take steps to correct anything that can distract from a confident first impression. Consider asking your doctor about which hair loss treatment is right for you, or if you should start using an antiperspirant made to treat hyperhidrosis for palms. That way, you’ll be able to walk into any situation with your head up high and project confidence to those around you.
Eye contact is key
If you find yourself too stressed out in the moment to remember anything else, simply focus on the eyes. Eye contact is one of the most descriptive forms of nonverbal communication; it can signal interest, attention, and connection, or lack thereof. Therefore, it’s critical that you feel comfortable enough to keep eye contact for at least a few seconds at a time. Otherwise, you may seem flighty or even rude.
If you struggle to maintain eye contact, it’s most likely a confidence issue. Before entering the interview or event, try practicing some self-affirmationsor power-posing. This should help you feel a little more self-assured once you’re actually in the conversation. And keep practicing! The last thing you want to do is worry about how much eye contact you’re making mid-conversation because it can pull your attention away and make you second guess yourself. Instead, make it muscle memory; start practicing it in everyday conversation until you begin feeling more comfortable in higher-stress scenarios, like job interviews.
In conclusion, remember that there are several ways your nonverbal communication can indicate your readiness to a recruiter. Be sure to keep yours under control and use these tips to your advantage in order to best support your resume and come across professionally.