Ace a Job Interview with Body Language, with Vanessa Van Edwards

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publishers of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-host, Ben Forstag, our managing director, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager. This week, we’re talking about how you can use body language to ace a job interview. Our show is brought to you by Hack the Hidden Job Market, the new online course from Mac’s List that starts November 1st. As many as 8 out of 10 job openings never get advertised. Is your dream job one of them? Learn how to uncover hidden jobs and get noticed by the hiring managers who fill. Visit macslist.org/course.

  During an interview, employers pay attention not only to what you say but how you say it. Every movement you make sends a message. Mastering your nonverbal communication skills can mean the difference between getting a job offer and receiving a tourist rejection letter. This week, I talk with Vanessa Van Edwards. She’s an expert on body language. Vanessa shares her tips for how to use body language to make your best impression. Before you get an interview, you need to send in your resume. During a long job search, you might email several dozen applications out. How should you track and follow up on all those leads? Ben has found an easy-to-use tool to help you. He’ll tell us about it in a moment.

  Should you apply for an opening with your dream employer if the position isn’t your ideal job? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Haley Twisp. Jenna has the answer. First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team. I have to ask you too about body language. What do you pay attention to personally when you’re in an important meeting?

Jenna Forstrom:

I’m not sure that this really applies to important meetings but just meetings in general. At Night Strike, we talk a lot about body language when we’re interacting with our guests and being open and friendly, but establishing positive boundaries. Just being aware of that when you’re entering a room for networking and stuff like that, having an open stance so having your back up against the wall and be open to the rest of the building. It just invites people over versus if you have your back to the door and you’re not really paying attention to who comes in. It’s not very welcoming and inviting. That’s just been something I’ve always been really conscious of since being an RA in college, just always meeting people where they’re at. If they’re standing, stay standing. If they’re sitting, stay sitting and going with the flow that way.

Mac Prichard:

Meet people where they’re at and strive to be welcoming and opening.

Jenna Forstrom:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Good tips. Ben, what are your thoughts?

Ben Forstag:

For me, eye contact I guess. That just is the clearest way to make sure people are at least visibly paying attention to you. If people eyes are wandering all over the place so they’re looking down at their phone, it’s a real clear indicator that their mind is elsewhere.

Mac Prichard:

If any of my long-suffering nephews or nieces are listening to this show, they would tell you that Uncle Mac is a big believer in eye contact. That’s something I’m always stressing with them because of the value of making a connection with others.

Ben Forstag:

Because our listeners can’t actually see this, you’re burning holes right to my eyes right now.

Mac Prichard:

It’s a habit I can’t shake.

Ben Forstag:

We’re eye locked.

Mac Prichard:

Good. I agree. Eye contact is important and having open, welcoming body language matters too. I also try to always show interest when I’m listening and keep focused on somebody, particularly if I’m at an event. I think it’s a sign of disrespect if you’re talking with someone and then their eyes sort of look over your shoulder to see who else is in the room. If you need to break off the conversation, you should do that and move on. It’s something that I think a lot of people notice when it happens to them. Let’s turn to Ben again and every week, he’s out there searching the nooks and crannies of the internet. He looks for websites, books and tools you can use in your job search and your career. Ben, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week, I want to share a tool called ApplyMate that I found. It’s a free online service. What this tool does is it helps you manage all of the applications you might have out there for different jobs. As you mentioned earlier, when you’re doing a job search, you might be applying to 5, 6, 10, 20 different jobs at any one time. It’s hard to keep track of all of the different moving pieces within those job applications. First, you might not be doing the entire application. You might be putting together your resume one morning and then the next day you’re going to work on the cover letter and then the next day you’re going to put together writing samples, so just managing that process takes time, but also just remembering, “I sent all the right pieces to company X over here or I sent all the right pieces over to company Y over there.” That takes a lot of energy.

  ApplyMate helps you do this. It’s essentially a database. You just enter the information about each job, about where you found it, the contact person, the deadlines for applying, where you are in the process and it just helps you keep track of that entire process. The best part about this I think is that you can schedule reminders for yourself. If you know when the job deadline is, when they’re going to stop taking applications, you can schedule a reminder to come back in and say to ping you by email or by text saying, “Hey, the job is now closed. Maybe you can start expecting a phone call sometime around here.” It’s a nice little tool. It’s completely free. You can buy an upgraded version, but I didn’t see any real need to do that.

  The one downside I found was that it requires you to upload your resume into the system to use it. I’m always a little skeptical about that. I just don’t want my resume floating around the internet without me really controlling where it is. The workaround I have though is it didn’t actually require that the document you uploaded was your actual resume so I just uploaded a blank document and that was saved as my resume. It didn’t get used for anything because I didn’t actually apply for any jobs, but it let me get access to the tool, do everything I wanted to do, played around with the system and it’s a nice little service. Again, it’s called ApplyMate. It’s available online at www.applymate.com.

Mac Prichard:

Great suggestion, Ben. Every job search has a lot of moving parts and anything that you can find to help you reduce just paying attention to that amount of detail can save you a lot of time and effort.

Ben Forstag:

I’ll be honest. You can also do a lot of this stuff just in a spreadsheet yourself, but this is just a nicer, a little bit more intuitive way to do it. The other thing that they include here which I really like is having a link back to the job description because so many times you’ll apply for a job and it might be several weeks before you get a phone call back, if you do get a phone call back, but it might be several weeks from the employer saying, “We’re really interested in talking to you.” At that point, you may have forgotten what the job was actually all about. Being able to go back and access that job description gets you a background of the job, what the requirements are, what the salary might be if that’s listed, all that pertinent information that sometimes gets lost in the process.

Mac Prichard:

Hearing you say that reminds me that several times a year, sometimes it’s after 5:00 when the office is close, the phone will ring, I’ll pick it up and it’s from somebody who is trying to track down a job posting, it was on Mac’s List and the 30 days has passed and it’s gone and they’re looking for that description. Whether you copy and paste that and put it away in a file or you link to something that lives on, that can be very valuable.

Ben Forstag:

Definitely.

Mac Prichard:

If you have an idea for Ben, he would love to hear from you. You can write him. His address is ben@macslist.org. Let’s turn to you, our listeners. Jenna is here. She’s our community manager. She’s got one of your questions. What are you hearing from our listeners this week, Jenna?

Jenna Forstrom:

This week’s question comes from Haley Twist. She sent us an email a couple weeks ago and then we asked her to call us at 716-JOBTALK and she did so we’re super excited to have her question. Just as a quick summary before we play her question. It was about applying for not necessarily your dream job but your dream company and whether or not that was a good idea. We’re going to listen to her clip right now.

Haley Twist:

Hi. My name is Haley Twist and I’m a listener from Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m a huge fan of the podcast. Thanks so much for all the advice you guys provide. My question is, should job hunters ever consider applying for positions they don’t necessarily want but are qualified for it if it’s to get their foot in the door at company that they really respect? For instance, I love the culture of remotely-run companies and have been seeking employment at a handful of completely digital companies run by geographically-dispersed employees. I’m specifically looking for a position in communications or project management but noticed that while not all of these companies are currently hiring for those positions, they are seeking applications for customer service representatives.

While I feel qualified for that role because I do have a lot of customer service experience under my belt, I feel like I’d be selling myself short to apply for those because I have other things that could be used so much more in the roles that I truly want. What do you think? Is it worth applying for these kinds of roles if you really want to connect with and maybe grow with a company? Or do you advise against it? Thanks guys. I look forward to hearing your advice.

Jenna Forstrom:

Thank you Haley for calling and asking your question. I think it’s a great question because I’ve struggled with this in my own job hunt. I came from Nike and I was doing freelance work there and a lot of people just want to work at Nike. It’s like their dream job, but they don’t care what they end up doing and I feel like a lot of hiring managers can sense that BS mentality. They’re just so eager to come in to a really cool organization. Hiring managers have their defenses up when getting applications that aren’t aligned to what the job position is actually hiring for. I also know that there’s a lot of great organizations out there that want to grow within and hire talent to move up in the organization.

Me and Haley were emailing back and forth and I said as long as you’re applying for jobs that fit into the realm of what you can do, that you’re qualified to do, then I don’t see any issues with applying for those jobs, but just being really open with the hiring manager and saying, “I’m happy to do customer service, but I really want to perfect my project management skills. I’m going to school for project management. Is there anything opening up in the near future? Do you foresee a growth opportunity or a growth path or a mentoring program or something like that,” because that makes you seem really interested in the organization, really interested in furthering your career.

A good hiring manager will say, “No, we don’t have any plans of opening up more project management roles. This wouldn’t be a good fit for you,” or, “Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome that you’re thinking of your future. One, two, three, five years down the road, we’re totally open to that conversation.” Just being honest. Ben and Mac, do you guys have any questions or thoughts?

Mac Prichard:

I think that’s excellent advice. I think if you do want to be inside an organization and you have an opportunity to even take a temporary position there, that could be a great way of introducing yourself and showing what you can do. I do think you should always manage your own internal expectations. If someone tells you, “Gosh, this is a three-month position and at this point there’s no possibility of an extension or any other opportunities,” just got into it with your eyes wide open. I’ve seen people do that. I’ve done it in my own career. Sometimes doors open, sometimes they don’t. Even if the doors don’t open and it doesn’t lead to a permanent opportunity, you’ll get in front of the people that you want to have connections with. You’ll also get a chance to see what that company looks like or the organization from the inside. Ben, what are your thoughts?

Ben Forstag:

I guess I’m going to be the contrarian here. My thinking is this. Part of what makes a job great is actually what you’re doing day to day. Organizations matter. Working with an awesome organization whether they develop an awesome widget or they have an awesome culture, that’s important. I think if you take a job that does not engage you, it doesn’t matter what the organization is, you’re not going to have a good time. At the end of the day, you’re going to feel unfulfilled and unexcited about coming back the next day. I think that the key thing is to be pragmatic here.

I wouldn’t take the janitor position at Nike just to get my foot in the door. If there was an opportunity that was maybe a slight step backward in the general area where I wanted to be, then that’s a strategic opportunity that you might take advantage of. I think the key though is just to manage your expectations, know that nothing is guaranteed, know that your three to five-year plans might not line up with the organization’s three to five-year plans and just work from there.

Mac Prichard:

I do agree, Ben, about the importance of if you do take a job and it’s not your dream job, you have to deliver. You have to do everything that you can to do that job well, even though you might really want to be doing something else.

Ben Forstag:

You have to make it clear that you plan on doing that because I don’t think any hiring manager, when they’re hiring, they’re hiring for the job that they have, not the job that might open up in six weeks or six months or six years. They don’t want to hire the person who is going to immediately jump at the next opportunity that’s out there. You have to make it clear. “I’m dedicated to the position that’s in front of me right now, with also the expectation or the hope that I can grow into something bigger and better in the future.”

Jenna Forstrom:

Awesome. Thanks guys. Thanks Haley for calling us in.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you Jenna and thank you Haley as well. If you’ve got a question for Jenna, you can email her and that address is jenna@macslist.org or you can call our listener line and that number is 716-JOBTALK. These segments with Ben and Jenna are sponsored by Hack The Hidden Job Market, the new online course from Mac’s List. As many as 80% of all jobs never get posted. Instead, employers fill these openings by word of mouth. Our new course shows you how this hidden job market works. We’ll teach you how to find plump gigs that never appear on a job board, how to stand out online in a crowd of applicants and how to connect with insiders who can help in your career.

  In each of the course are 12 modules. You get the tools and tips you need to get the work you want. Meaningful work. Work that makes a difference. Work that you can love. Hack The Hidden Job Market launches November 1st. Don’t wait. Get updates and get the early bird price now. Go to macslist.org/course. Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Vanessa Van Edwards. Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author, behavioral investigator and Huffington Post columnist. Her specialty is science-based people skills. Vanessa runs the Science of People, a human behavior research lab, and her unique approach has been featured on CNN, Forbes, NPR, Business Week and in the Wall Street Journal. Vanessa, thanks for coming in to the Mac’s List studio.

V. Van Edwards:

Thanks for having me.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s start with the basics, Vanessa. Why does body language matter in a job search?

V. Van Edwards:

Sure. First impressions are primarily nonverbal and the problem is is when we’re preparing for interviews, we think about what we want to say. We bullet out these amazing answers. We practice interview questions with our friends, but we very rarely think about how we want to say something. We’re putting all of our eggs in the verbal basket. Research shows that, at a minimum, 60% of our communication is nonverbal and that’s the lowest study we could find. That’s like leaving the house with 40% of your ability.

Mac Prichard:

What do people need to pay attention to when they get onto the car and they’re ready to walk into that interview?

V. Van Edwards:

For my introverts who are listening, a lot of us like to believe that our first impression happens the moment we open our mouths. We think about our walk into the waiting room, our first initial when someone opens the door and they greet us and then we say, “Hi, my name is Vanessa.” Actually our first impression happens the moment someone first sees us. What you want to practice is not only that hello, but also just the way that you’re waiting. For example in a waiting room, most of us sit in a chair, we’re anxious. We pull our our phone. We check our emails. We review points. When someone opens the door, the very first thing they see is called the glance test. We’re talking about the science of first impressions. You hunch over your phone in the corner of the room. That’s the first impression they get.

Actually what you want to do is look around the office, look at the art on the walls, take in the view, say hi to the receptionist, check out the magazines they have on the table. That is actually the best research you can do on site. You’ve done all this research online, researching the company, maybe your interviewer, but walk around and look at the room so when they open the door, you have expansive body language so you’re standing up, your shoulders are rolled down and back and most importantly, this is a secret one, is that your hands are visible. Now, this is kind of weird. Mac, how about this? When you first meet someone, where’s the first place you look?

Mac Prichard:

I generally look people in the eye.

V. Van Edwards:

Okay. That is the most common answer. What eye tracking research shows is we actually look at someone’s hands first. This is a survival mechanism. Imagine back in our caveman days. If we were approached by a stranger caveman, the first place we looked at was their hands to see if they were carrying a rock or a spear. We do this totally subconsciously. When you have your hands your pockets behind your back and you’re digging around in your purse, very slightly the other person thinks, “Friend or foe?” The best thing you can do is actually have your hands visible and ready for that handshake. That not only makes it a smoother transition, but you also trigger their brain to say, “I’m not hiding anything. I’m totally friends.” It’s a very interesting brain thing that happens in that first millisecond.

Mac Prichard:

Be open and expansive in that waiting room, engage the receptionist. Why is hunched over your iPhone or your smartphone a bad thing? What image or signal are you sending there, Vanessa?

V. Van Edwards:

Great question. Actually, there was a really interesting study that was done at Harvard Business School that looked at different devices. What they did is they looked at devices and confidence levels. They had an iPhone. They had an iPad. They had a small Macbook. They had a large desktop screen. They had different people working at all these different devices. They found that the larger the device, the higher the confidence which is a crazy study when you think about, but what they think happens is that when your body is hunched over and taking up a small amount of space, it triggers what’s called defeat body language.

Athletes across cultures, across races, across genders, they all make the same body language when they win and lose a race. Losing athletes hunch over into a standing or seated fetal position. They roll their shoulders in, they tilt their chin and their forehead towards their chest. It’s like they’re protecting their vital organs. Whereas winning athletes make expansive body language. They roll their shoulders back. They angle their chest, chin and forehead up towards the sky. They’ll usually even pump their arms. Our brains somehow recognize that if our body is in defeated body language, hunched over an iPhone or for an expansive language looking at the view, looking at the art, it triggers our brain to say, “You’re a winner or you’re a loser.” Not only do you want to feel like a winner, you also want to signal to someone else that “I’m a winner.” That hunched versus expansive body language is all you need.

Mac Prichard:

We’re in the waiting room, practicing expansive body language. Our hands are visible. The person from the interview panel comes in. We stand up. We shake hands. How should we do that?

V. Van Edwards:

That’s step number two. We’ve nailed that first impression. Awesome. Now they reach out and they say, “Hey, Mac. Nice to meet you.” You reach out and shake hands. Let me just explain why the handshake is so important and how that handshake is important. The moment we touch someone, have that physical touch, we release a small hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is this very special little hormone. You know when you’re with someone you have that kind of warm and fuzzy feeling? That’s actually oxytocin. It’s nicknamed the cuddle hormone. When we’re cuddling with someone, we have this, “We feel so safe and secure.”

Our bodies are very smart. They know that if we’re close enough to shake hands, we should actually produce the exact chemical we need to trust them. When you start on a handshake, your body immediately begins to produce oxytocin and so does theirs. The biggest mistake I see, especially in group interviews, is someone will walk in the room and forego the handshake for a wave or a nod. They come in, “Hi. Nice to see you.” They throw their hand up and wave or they give a nice friendly nod. When you do that, you’re literally taking away the most important physical part of that connection. The other mistake I see is that we forget to end our interview on a handshake.

Most of us have been taught, “Always handshake at the beginning,” but we’re not taught to handshake at the end. Seal the deal chemically on both ends. When you take someone’s hand, the biggest questions I get are, “How do you do the perfect handshake?” Here are my three rules of thumb. One, dry. No one likes a clammy handshake no matter where they’re from. My trick for this, by the way, is if you have clammy hands, be sure that you always have a tissue in your purse or in your pockets. You can just very quickly reach in, dry it off or if you’re at a networking event, wrap your water bottle, your wine glass in a napkin. It keeps your hand dry.

Second, firmness. This is the hard part. What do you do? For both men and women, you want to think about how you squeeze a peach. Have you ever been to a grocery store and you pick up a peach and you try to see if it’s ripe? It’s the same thing with a handshake. You pick up a peach and you squeeze it to see if it’s a little bit firm. The moment you feel firmness, you stop squeezing. It’s the same thing with a handshake. You want to squeeze just until you feel that tension. That means the other person has matched you, grip for grip. That’s how firm you should squeeze a hand.

Mac Prichard:

Firm but not too weak and certainly not too strong.

V. Van Edwards:

It’s all about matching. If we want to shake hands right now, Mac, you and I, you reach your hand out and we shake our hands. We tend to squeeze just enough until we both feel, “Oh, she’s got me.” That’s the acknowledgement of we feel each other. Now we’re both producing oxytocin.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Step number three?

V. Van Edwards:

Step number three is I always like to pair with a smile. It’s hard in an interview situation to smile organically, especially if you’re talking about really serious things. If you smile inauthentically, it comes across as fake. What I always say is the best opportunity for a genuine handshake is you truly are happy to be there. You’re happy for the interview. You’re happy for the opportunity. It’s the best moment for authentic happiness. Pair that squeeze with a nice authentic happy handshake and you set the tone for a nice warm engagement.

Mac Prichard:

You’ve shaken the hands of the people in the panel whether it’s one, three or six. Now you’re ready to sit down and talk. What are your tips about how to sit in that chair and how to present yourself during the course of that conversation?

V. Van Edwards:

Perfect. This is the final stage. We talked now about first impression as well as warmth body language. Handshaking, visible hands, smile, those are all warmth cues. The last thing especially during the interview, we want to show competence cues. Now we want to say, “Okay, I’m a good team player. I’m happy to be here, but I have skills. I want to bring something to the team.” There’s a couple things you can do for competence cues. The way that we actually figure these out is we … I’m a Ted Talk junkie. I love Ted Talks. In our lab, we do all kinds of research experiments and we analyzed all of the top and bottom Ted Talks from the year 2010. We wanted to see if there were patterns between the top and bottom speakers. What we found was the top speakers indicate competence very quickly, usually within the first 7 to 10 seconds of being on stage.

We want to use these same tricks or tips when we are in an interview. The very first one is vocal charisma. This is important whether you’re doing a phone interview, a video interview or an in-person interview. Most people don’t think about their body language for phone interviews, but actually a lot of our nonverbal comes across through the phone. For example, we’re doing a study right now where we had people record different versions of hello. Hello, the very first thing you say. We found that if you’re doing these competence cues during the hello, people rate you as more trustworthy.

Mac Prichard:

Quickly Vanessa, what are some of those competence cues that you need to use?

V. Van Edwards:

Very easily, first is fronting. Fronting is when you align your body with theirs. My toes and my body are angled towards the person I’m speaking with. Whether you’re in a group interview or a one-on-one setting, you always want to nonverbally align yourself. Second is nodding. Nodding is a wonderful cue that shows you are listening. It’s also a very highly agreeable trait. As you’re delivering that powerful information, you’re nodding along with their words to show, “Yeah, I hear you. I agree.” It’s great, sort of bold.

The last one, this is the hardest, is scripts kill charisma. If you’ve memorized your answers or if you’ve answered a question a million times in interviews and you sound scripted, it saps the authenticity. For example, hear the difference between this. My name is Vanessa and I work at the Science of People. That sounds incredibly boring. If I say it a little differently which is, my name is Vanessa and I work at the Science of People. Just start saying your answers a little bit differently to show that you are not memorized.

Mac Prichard:

When you’re in that room, I know some of our listeners are thinking, “What about note taking? What if I bring in materials?” How should I handle those things?

V. Van Edwards:

It’s great to show note taking, if you actually are going to take notes. Don’t bring a notepad and do tic-tac-toe or not actually use it.

Mac Prichard:

Tic-tac-toe during a job interview, maybe not such a good idea.

V. Van Edwards:

Right, exactly. I think that note taking is great if you are authentically going to use it. It shows a very important aspect of your personality which is conscientiousness. All of us have five aspects of our personality and conscientiousness is a big one for hiring. If you are a note taker, that can show instead of tell that you have very high organization. What I would recommend though with note taking is to make sure that you don’t use it as blocking. Sometimes people will hold their computer or their phone or their notepad in front of their chest or they’ll hold it up, that is actually a barrier to connection. If you’re going to use it, take a quick note and then put it off to the side or on the leg of a leg. Don’t hold it right in front of you.

Mac Prichard:

If you bring in materials, say work samples or portfolio, are there things you should or shouldn’t do when you share that written content?

V. Van Edwards:

It’s actually great to bring in a leave behind or something extra. A small tip here is closed body language is when anyone is blocking their torso. If your interviewer is sitting with crossed arms or with their notebook in front of their chest, it indicates that they’re a little bit closed off. What I like to do when I have leave behinds is save it for a moment where I want to get them out of that body language. I don’t actually lead with my materials. I’ll usually chit chat and talk and then if it’s feeling a little stale or you’re getting a little nervous, perfect time to bring out that portfolio and say, “Oh, I brought this for you as well.” It’s a nice reset button for the interview especially if you’ve had a hard question.

Mac Prichard:

Before we exit that room, Vanessa, any other tips for how people should behave during the course of an interview whether it’s a one-on-one conversation or with a group?

V. Van Edwards:

You actually want to signal the exit with your body language. I talk a lot about the art of the first impression, but the art of the last impression is just as important. You want to show them that you’re ending it. If they’re saying, “It was great to have you. Wrap it up,” what you can do is do the final lean in and final handshake. Show them that you’re coming in for that chemical seal the deal and that lean is also a nice way of saying, “I’m with you. I’m engaged.”

As you’re making that final handshake, you want to give each individual person nice eye contact and that smile again. “So happy to be here. Thank you so much for the opportunity.” Then end it right on that nice clean note. The hardest part about ending an interview is when you have that weird leave behind where you’re not sure if it’s over yet. It’s okay. End it on that handshake, say “thanks so much” and then take that nice purposeful walk out.

Mac Prichard:

Often when you do make that walk, someone from the panel or if it’s been a one-on-one conversation will take you back to the reception area. What are your tips about how to behave both during the hallway and as you exit the reception area?

V. Van Edwards:

That’s a great question. Walk side by side. One of the easy ways to build rapport, especially actually male to male, prefer side by side walking. It’s one of the reasons if you look at bar research, men like to sit at the bar next to each other whereas women like to sit at the bar sitting at tables facing each other. It’s actually an interesting gender difference. When you’re walking with someone, you never want to walk slightly ahead or behind them. It’s actually a little bit unnerving. Walk side by side. As you’re speaking, make eye contact as you’re walking. That’s a really congenial nonverbal cue of saying, “We’re equal. We’re partners. This is really enjoyable.” Try not to walk behind or in front of them.

Mac Prichard:

Then a fond farewell to the receptionist?

V. Van Edwards:

Absolutely. A fond farewell to the receptionist. If you can give a handshake, that’s great too. Also just thank them. “Thank you so much for having me.” That’s a wonderful way to end a relationship. If you see them again, hopefully if they hire you, and even if not, we want to make good connections with everyone we encounter.

Mac Prichard:

So that our listeners can avoid it, what are some of the biggest body language mistakes you’ve seen people make in a job interview?

V. Van Edwards:

One of the biggest body language mistakes is movement distraction. Our eyes are drawn to things in motion. That’s just the way that our brain works. Some of the big motion distractors, clicking pen, anytime you click your pen on and off, even if you’re just doing it at the beginning or end of notes, that’s a distractor for people. We also know that people with high amounts of movement are typically more nervous. Hand gestures are great, but pen clicking, foot jiggling, knee jiggling, tapping, knuckle cracking, those are all movement distractions. The only movement you should be having really in an interview, three things: nodding, leaning in and hand gestures. Those are three beautifully charismatic body language tips. However, we don’t want to do fidgeting, self-touch like tucking hair behind ear, touching jewelry, clicking the pen or jiggling.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Anything else you’d like to add, Vanessa?

V. Van Edwards:

I would say that authenticity is one of those things we can’t teach. Everything I’ve talked about today is congruency. I think you’re a great candidate for a job and so you want to show as well as tell that. If you are nervous about something or you don’t think you’re a good candidate for the job, that will come across. You need to do whatever you can beforehand to make sure that you know that you are happy about this and you’re a good candidate because that comes through in your body language.

Mac Prichard:

Good. Tell us what’s coming up next for you.

V. Van Edwards:

We are doing tons of research experiments. We love for people to click around at our labs. We’re doing a vocal power experiment where you can listen to hellos and tell me how charismatic someone is. We love those clicks, all the research we have. We need your help.

Mac Prichard:

Where can people find you online, Vanessa?

V. Van Edwards:

It’s scienceofpeople.com.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Thank you for coming into the studio. It’s been a great conversation.

V. Van Edwards:

Thanks for having me.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Ben and Jenna. Tell me, you two, what are some of the key takeaways you heard from my interview with Vanessa?

Ben Forstag:

First Mac, I just want to commend you. Our listeners can’t see this, but I was sitting in the corner when you were talking with Vanessa and I noticed the entire time you were facing her, you were nodding to everything she said and you weren’t fiddling at all. Very good job with your body expressions there.

Mac Prichard:

I felt like I was back in parochial school with the nuns watching my posture. I mean that in a friendly way. She’s a great conversationalist and has amazing energy and I think that came across in the interview.

Ben Forstag:

Definitely. I want to go back to one of the first things she said about what to do in the waiting room. It reminded me of one of the tips I had back when I was in the nonprofit space which is whenever you’re applying for a nonprofit, you’re sitting in the waiting room and every nonprofit has a latest annual report sitting someplace in their waiting room and just picking that up and reviewing that or leafing through it, even if it’s information that you’ve already seen on their website, I just think it sends such a strong visual cue to the person who comes and talks to you and gets you out of that room that you’re engaged, that you’re interested in what the nonprofit does and that you’re eager to learn more about them. I like that point.

Jenna Forstrom:

I really liked her comment on how to handshake and to shake like you’re touching a peach because I get totally creeped out when people try to crush your hand. This is not a dominance thing. I’m not interviewing for jobs right now, but we go to a lot of networking events and there are just people that are very aggressive in their handshaking and it’s creepy and then there’s also the very limp handshake which is weirdly unnerving as well. I just like that you’re aiming for like checking out fruit. Everyone’s done that before so it’s a good mental image.

Ben Forstag:

What do you think about the two-handed handshake?

Jenna Forstrom:

What is this?

Mac Prichard:

That’s very common in politics.

Ben Forstag:

You reach in with your right hand and as soon as the other person grabs it, you come in with the left and cuff their hands on both sides.

Jenna Forstrom:

I have yet to experience this and I would like to keep that track going so if I meet any of our podcasters in person, please do not two-hand handshake me. We’re just going to avoid that altogether. I also really liked her point on how men like to walk side by side. I’ve heard this before and now I’m thinking I heard it from her or a YouTube video of hers that I’ve watched, but I know that guys like always walking forward so that’s why golf is such a successful business trip because two men are accomplishing something together, playing golf, and that’s a really good thing which, side note and maybe this could be embarrassing for the guys here, so I’m the only girl in the office and when we do brainstorming sessions, I always suggest going for a walk for this reason because I think it’s great, just asking people when we’re walking. We’re accomplishing something.

Ben Forstag:

About that side by side point she made, my first thought was our hallways are too narrow for two men to walk side by side. We can’t do that which is true.

Jenna Forstrom:

Really? Maybe.

Mac Prichard:

I liked her point about showing interest in the reception area too, Ben. To your suggestion about paying attention to an annual report, as you said that, I was reminded that the number of times I’ve come out into the reception area and I’ve seen somebody I’m about to meet with look at the books on our coffee table, it always makes an impression on me because they’re showing an interest in material we put out there which can be obscure. For the benefit of our listeners who haven’t been to the Mac’s List office, we’ve got a collection of Czech photographs from the 1930s and I think Korean patriotic posters from the ’50s and ’60s. It’s an acquired taste. To see somebody actually pay attention to that is always intriguing to me.

Ben Forstag:

I wonder if anyone puts out intentionally obscure materials in their waiting room just to see what people look at, the moral economy of the peasant or something like that.

Mac Prichard:

I don’t know. I thought she had a lot of good practical tips that you can use when you do go in your next job interview. Thank you for listening to today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear, please sign up for our free weekly newsletters. In each issue, you’ll get key points of that week’s show. We also include links to all of the resources mentioned and you get a transcript of the full episode. If you subscribe to the newsletter now, we’ll send you our job secret checklist and you’ll find in one easy-to-use file all the steps you need to take to find a great job. Get your free newsletter and checklist today. Go to macslist.org/podcast. Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Josh Duty. He’ll tell us how you can get the promotion and the raise you want. Until next time. Thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

Did you know that your body language is responsible for 60% of your communications and that first impressions are nonverbal?

This week’s guest, Vanessa Van Edwards, shares some body language best practices for acing a job interview, based on her team’s scientific research.

Body language research shows us that the first thing an interviewer sees is called a ‘glance test.’ Humans used to use this first glance to determine if an approaching person was a friend or foe. It is an instinctive response we still use today, even though we may not be aware of it.

To make the most out of our time in front of an interviewer Vanessa offers up these tips…

  • Nail the first impression by using expansive body language and making their hands visible.
  • Shake the interviewer’s hand at the beginning and at the end of the interview.
  • Demonstrate competence by aligning your body with the interviewer’s body, nod to show you are listening and speak naturally.
  • Use your portfolio or leave behind a document to open up an interviewer’s closed body language.
  • End the interview with a lean-in handshake and good eye contact.
  • Walk side by side with the interviewer on your way out of the office.

If you feel like a winner and have a winner’s posture you will come across as a winner!

This Week’s Guest

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author, behavioral investigator, and Huffington Post columnist. Her specialty is science-based people skills. Vanessa runs the Science of People, a human behavior research lab and her unique approach has been featured on CNN, Forbes, NPR, BusinessWeek and in the Wall Street Journal. Vanessa’s newest book is Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.

Resources from this Episode