The Body Language of Interviews: #1 – Start with a Smile

With that important interview coming up, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind. How much research should you do beforehand? What questions are the interviewers likely to ask? What should you wear? What if you seem nervous? What if you seem arrogant? What if you’ve got a sweaty handshake? Should you go out for a heavy drinking session the night before?

There’s plenty to think about, isn’t there? But are you paying attention to your body, too? We all tend to communicate a lot through our gestures, without saying anything at all. Here’s how to come up smiling:

Start the interview with a smile. It’s totally normal to feel nervous – it shows you care. But if you walk in with a smile regardless of the butterflies in your tummy, you’ll appear to be much more comfortable than you might feel. That’s because every time you smile, you start neural party in your brain, releasing neuropeptides (tiny molecules that allow our neurons to communicate with each other) and feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Simply smiling starts a chain reaction in your brain that’ll leave you feeling more relaxed, with a lower heart rate.

It’s not just about you, though. A study published in Neuropsychologia demonstrated that seeing a smiling face activates the part of the brain responsible for processing sensory rewards – so when your interviewer sees you smiling, they get a little boost, too. 

You want to bring a positive energy into the interview room with you, and the easiest way to do that is with a smile. Nodding occasionally while you’re listening to the interviewer is another great way to show enthusiasm and understanding. As with most of the advice in this series, just be careful not to overdo it. A sprinkling of smiles – when you shake hands, and when you leave – is usually enough.

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