The body is a tattletale

Nervousness affects your body and changes your voice.

As a student, you are probably used to your utterances being deemed important and relevant. However, at a job interview, your body will function as a tattletale. For instance, try to picture a lecturer, who enters the auditorium with a hunched back and presents his or her slides in an uneven and stuttering manner. You will probably not find this person particularly credible, no matter how professionally competent a résumé claims he or she is.

Just as a lecturer needs to be able to sell a message to you, as a student, you have to be able to sell yourself at a job interview. In that situation, your body language can either help you or sabotage you by revealing exactly how you are feeling. When we find ourselves in an unpleasant situation, our fight our flight response is awakened. If you are transferring your weight from one foot to the other, looking down at the table, or speaking in a low, incoherent manner, the people sitting across the table from you may start to wonder about your body language. Are you even interested in the position? When you exhibit such enormous insecurity, will you be able to handle the demands of the job?

Of course, it’s okay to be nervous at a job interview – you might actually lighten the mood by mentioning that you are nervous.

“Basically, you need to show up on time, preferable ahead of time, instead of storming through the door at the last minute. It’s also important that you bring your stuff and keep a copy of your application at hand, while you take notes during the interview. Further, you need to have planned some questions in advance.”
– Lena Kjær, HR-manager, Ramboll

Below, you’ll find some useful tips ­regarding your body language:

  • Smile when you enter the room.
  • Give a firm handshake – avoid the “dead fish grip”.
  • Feel free to engage in smalltalk, while you’re waiting – talk about the weather, the view, or what you did during the weekend.
  • Make sure to make eye contact with everyone during the interview.
  • Sit still. Put your feet on the floor – stay grounded.
  • Place your arms on the table or write notes, so that you are in control of your hands.
  • Be careful around pastry or coffee, as food and drinks may leave distracting crumbs or stains on your clothes or skin.