The greatest focus of job interview preparations is usually crafting thoughtful responses to interviewers’ questions and creating your own intelligent questions to ask. But body language is just as important during a job interview.
How you physically present yourself during an interview also conveys a lot about who you are as a candidate and a future employee. In fact, most interviewers will also consider your nonverbal cues during the meeting.
In the hospitality industry, your body language also takes on another layer of significance: how you will present yourself to guests. Hiring managers will want to make sure that you come across as trustworthy and confident in order to inspire trust in guests. After all, when you’re at work you’ll be embodying the business’ brand.
So be mindful of how you position your body throughout the interview.
The primary difference between in-person and virtual interviews is that the in-person interview will likely begin with a handshake.
First, note that Covid-19 may have some interviewers reluctant to shake hands. So be respectful if they shy away from the gesture or opt for the “elbow bump.” If they do elect to shake hands, make sure you grasp their hand firmly. A limp handshake is a quick route to leaving a bad first impression.
If you’re jittery, you’ll appear nervous. Hiring managers in hospitality will want to be confident that you’ll be at ease with all guests. So don’t take your fingers or your feet or play with your hair.
Even if your interview is virtual and the interviewer can’t see you tapping your foot or playing with a pen, the movement will still transpire to your upper body.
In short, keeping still will make you appear relaxed.
Sit Up Straight
Otherwise, there are a lot of similarities to how you should hold yourself in both in-person and virtual interviews. For example, in both cases, you’ll want to pay attention to your posture. Make sure you’re sitting up straight with your shoulders back.
Slouching during a job interview can be interpreted as disinterest, disrespect, or a lack of self-confidence. In short, it leaves a bad impression. Imagine there’s a photographer in the room taking candid shots of you. Do you want to see photos of yourself hunched over? Straighten up and be picture perfect.
Sitting on the edge of your seat and leaning forward just a bit is also advice that is commonly offered to job candidates. The thought is that it shows the candidate’s interest.
Be mindful if you choose to do this. You don’t want to lean so far forward that you’re in the interviewer’s personal space. You also want to maintain your professionalism and not appear as though you’re watching an intense sports match.
Just as important as sitting up straight is making eye contact with the interviewer. It’s important that you aren’t looking at the floor or staring out a window or off into space during the interview. Avoiding eye contact will also be viewed negatively and not just for the purpose of the interview.
Job interviewers will want to feel assured that you’ll also easily and naturally make eye contact with guests. This is essential to make guests feel comfortable and trust that you’ll provide them with great customer service.
Of course, it would be a little odd if you tried to hold the hiring manager’s gaze throughout the entire duration of the interview. You’ll also want to scan their desk or office for any photos or other objects that you could use as a conversation starter. But do make a point of looking directly at the person when he or she is speaking and also when you’re making points that you want to emphasize.
However, it is worth noting that keeping notes on hand is one of the benefits of virtual interviews. So you can get away with glancing down on occasion, but try to be discreet about it and otherwise maintain onscreen eye contact.
Either keep your hands at your sides during the interview or folded in your lap. You definitely do not want to cross your arms across your chest as this has a variety of negative connotations from a defensive position to an aggressive stance.
There’s also a commonly held view that you should make some hand gestures while speaking during the interview. But there are still two major points that you should be aware of:
- Don’t make too many hand gestures. You want to show that you’re engaged. You don’t want to appear as though you’re auditioning for a part in a mafia movie.
- Be cognizant of the hand gestures that you’re making. For instance, finger-pointing can come across as accusatory or aggressive. Instead, strive to make open palm gestures, which are thought to be more “trustworthy.”
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. You want to make the best impression possible. You want to respond to all of the interviewer’s questions intelligently and you also want to maintain your professionalism. So getting it all right can seem overwhelming.
But if there is only one aspect of your body language that you remember to maintain during a job interview, it’s to smile. A smile communicates friendliness, openness, and confidence. It’s also highly valued in the hospitality industry.