Most of us are accustomed to preparing for interviews by practicing our answers to common interview questions. Answering questions articulately and without hesitation shows that you’re prepared, confident, and – most likely – a good candidate for the position. However, the success of verbal communication is also significantly dependent on non-verbal cues, often referred to generally as “body language”. This applies to your everyday life as well as to more formal situations like job interviews or networking events. Here, we’ll review a few simple, powerful ways to convey confidence with body language to ensure your messages are received the right way.
Often, the first interaction you have with someone in a professional context is a handshake. It’s important to leave a good first impression, so you should practice your handshake a few times with another person for feedback. One mistake you can make is turning your wrist to position your hand over (or under) someone else’s hand. Turning your wrist so that your hand is on top implies that you may be aggressive or dominating, which is not the impression you should try to make. Furthermore, a handshake can be too hard (your grip should never cause pain), too soft (avoid the ‘dead fish’ handshake) or too long. One or two seconds should be enough, but – in most cases – trying to mirror what the person you’re meeting is doing is probably your best bet.
What's the difference between an introvert mathematician and an extrovert mathematician? An introvert mathematician looks at his shoes when he's talking to you. An extrovert mathematician looks at YOUR shoes.
Jokes aside, avoiding eye contact can be another pitfall. If you’re unable to make eye contact or maintain it, you may come across to another person as dishonest or unconfident. Instead, you should try to look your conversation partner in the face, making eye contact frequently. This can be overdone, so if you feel like you’re staring, it’s probably good to break your gaze for a short amount of time.
Body posture and positioning
The most important element of body posture and positioning for conveying confidence is to sit/stand up straight, but there are other more subtle cues. Particularly when we’re less confident, people tend to fidget in a variety of ways. Avoid playing with a pen, your hair or otherwise occupying your hands during conversation. Your hands should be used for small gestures to augment your conversation, but no more. Avoid crossing your arms, as well, as this comes across as defensive – it’s almost like you’re building a wall between yourself and the person with whom you’re speaking. Finally, keep your feet planted flat on the floor – avoid tapping your foot or swaying back and forth.
To convey confidence with your voice, make sure not to speak too quickly or too softly – pay special attention to your volume and pace. Natural conversation usually varies in tone and pitch from time to time, so make sure you don’t drone on for too long in a monotone (Bueller? Bueller?).
It may sound like a lot, but you’re probably already following most of these steps, particularly when you’re in relaxed settings with friends or family. By being conscious of your body language, you’ll be able to convey confidence in any scenario, personal or professional.