Send positive signals through your body language

While certain methods of succeeding at job interviews are so well-known that they become almost automatic, there are also mistakes that you’re unaware of which can end up costing you that dream job. If you’re up against strong competition, identifying and eliminating potential errors before your interview can make all the difference. Your great qualifications won’t matter if you wind up treating the interview as a trial, a sparring match, or an over-familiar chat.

New research illustrates some of the glaring mistakes made by candidates while under scrutiny from potential employers. A medium, even one who is talented, grabbing the interviewer’s hand and forcing a palm-reading upon them is probably not a good idea, and ended up costing one recent interviewee the job. There is also the candidate who sang her answers to every question, and another who applied lotion to her feet while being interviewed. Not a good idea, though it may have made the demoralized walk home a little less painful.

These may be isolated cases, but far more mundane slip-ups are preventing large numbers of job candidates from being hired. Catching a candidate lying was an automatic disqualifier for over two thirds of 2,600 hiring and HR managers surveyed, while the same number report that a candidate who answers a phone call or text message during an interview will not be hired.

Be aware of the signals you’re sending

It’s clear that the behaviors mentioned above are a bad idea. But there are also signals that you’re often unaware of. For example, 22% of employers state that a weak handshake is among the worst body language errors a candidate can make. But overcompensating can be a mistake, because 9% of employers find an overly strong handshake off-putting. To make the best first impression, use a firm handshake, keep eye contact with the interviewer, and shake three times. If you need to, practice with a friend before the big day and hopefully your buddy can help you find the perfect grip.

Try to look natural

Crossing your arms is another no-no. Most of the time, particularly if you’re cold, nervous or self-conscious, you’re probably not aware that you are doing it. But body language experts agree that it sends a message of insecurity or defensiveness. And while crossing your arms is not quite the same thing as applying foot lotion, it’s important to remember the importance of establishing a confident posture as soon as you are seated. If unfolding your arms makes you prone to wild hand gestures, try keeping your hands on your lap or leg and clasp your hands together. Try not to appear too stiff, and be aware that any gestures you use are meaningful.

Make a good first impression

Around half of all employers say they know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good fit for the job. Because the experience and qualifications shown on your application have gotten you this far, it’s your personality and body language that are key to the interview process. A successful interview is key to getting hired, so be sure to practice ahead of time if you want to get the job.

A new infographic from OnStride gathers seven of the leading body language mistakes into one place, explains each problem in detail, and offers achievable ways to fix them before your interview. By studying it in advance, you can avoid becoming just another human resources statistic.