How the Right Body Language Can Get You a Museum Job

If you’re preparing for a job interview at a museum, there are many things to consider. What are you going to wear? What will you say to the inevitable ‘have you got anything you would like to ask us?’ question? Have you done enough research on the company and the role? These are all common areas of concern when getting ready to meet a potential employer.

However, there may be one area that you have overlooked: body language. Have you considered how your non-verbal communication during the meeting could affect the outcome? We all send messages via our body language that we’re often unaware of, and during a job interview we may be sending out negative signals that could harm our chances of being offered the job.

It’s often said that people make up their mind about whether to offer someone a job within the first few seconds, so don’t let negative body language spoil your chances. During the interview, your potential employer will be sizing you up, looking not only at your qualifications and experience. But how your personality fits within the culture of the business. Whether they realise it or not, your body language will be a big factor in whether they decide to hire you.

Here are the most common examples of negative body language displayed by people in job interviews, and how neutralising them can help you get hired by a museum.

Lack of eye contact
Lack of eye contact can signify a lack of confidence, and an apparent unwillingness to look someone in the eye is off-putting to interviewers. On the other hand, staring intently at the person interviewing you is also a no-no! Try to maintain a balance of good eye contact with looking away from time to time.

Fidgeting
Tapping your leg, biting your nails, or playing with a pen can all give the impression that you’re bored or anxious. It’s natural to have some excess nervous energy before an interview, so try to take a few deep breaths before entering the room and be aware of fidgeting. Too much coffee can also leave you feeling wired, so try to limit your caffeine intake on the day of your interview.

Hand signals
Hands can be an extremely expressive part of our bodies, but be wary of making aggressive motions such as pointing or chopping. Try to avoid putting your hands in your pockets during and after the interview, as this can make you look lazy, or that you have something to hide. Perhaps most importantly, make sure your handshake is good and firm.

Crossed arms and legs
We often comfort ourselves by crossing our arms or legs to form a protective barrier if we’re feeling threatened or cold. Lots of people subconsciously cross their arms and legs during interviews to ‘protect’ themselves from the questions. This can signal to the interviewer that you’re not comfortable, and they may assume that you lack confidence in your abilities. Try to adopt an ‘open’ sitting position with your legs straight and your hands resting in your lap.

It’s important to be aware of all these negative body language signals, but this can be difficult. After all, they are all unintentional and therefore hard to control. You might want to consider staging a mock interview with a friend, and videoing it to see what bad habits you need to watch out for. Ask for honest feedback from your friends and family — do you have a tendency to fidget? Could meditation exercises help you? It’s certainly worth finding out, after all you only have one chance to make a good impression during a job interview. Good luck!

Jobs in Museums is the easy way for museum professionals to find the best jobs in museums, galleries and historic houses.

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