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It takes just a few seconds before we pass judgement on someone we meet. We can’t help it; it’s our nature. Even before a person speaks our brains start to give us the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Body language is how we communicate without words. It can be a look, a smile, a stance, a gesture. It can be a fidget, a crossed arm, a slouch.

Interviewers start to make decisions about you the moment they see you. That’s before you say hello. So if your body is talking, you need to know what it’s saying. Because in an interview, good body language is essential to your interview’s success.

If you’ve got a job interview, a college interview, or an internship interview, here are 6 simple and successful body language tips:

1. Sit up straight. Slouching is a sign that you lack confidence. Leaning back is a sign that you’re defensive or don’t care.

2. Lean slightly forward. When you lean slightly forward you lessen the space between you and the interviewer. It shows increased interest in the conversation.

3. Don’t fidget. Fidgeting is a sign of discomfort or weakness. It’s also distracting. If you twirl your hair, pull it back. If you twist or rub your hands, fold them in front of you or keep them flat in your lap. If you tap your pen, put it away. Fidgeting can be a hard habit to break, but if you work on being aware of when you do it, and stop yourself when you do, you’ll find that over time you’ll be able to control it more easily.

4. Maintain good eye contact. Looking someone in the eye is a sign of honesty and directness. It also shows that you’re engaged in the conversation. It’s okay to occasionally look away — most of us do that, especially when we’re thinking. But remember to bring your eyes back to the interviewer. Don’t stare, though — that can get creepy.

5. No limp fish handshakes. A strong handshake is a sign of confidence, so be firm when you shake someone’s hand. Too strong a handshake can come off as aggressive (and potentially painful). So can holding on for too long. Not sure about your handshake? Find several people to practice with.

6. Smile. A genuine smile lights up your face. It shows the interviewer that you’re happy to be there and that you’re enjoying the experience. So when you meet your interviewer, smile. And when it’s appropriate during the interview, smile (or even laugh). Definitely smile when you shake hands and leave — that’s the last picture your interviewer will have of you.

For more information about interviewing, check out my posts on how to begin and end college interviews and why you might be failing your job interview.

All eyes are on you from the moment you arrive for your interview until the moment you leave. Make sure your body language speaks volumes — in the right way.

Sharon Epstein

Sharon Epstein is owner ofFirst Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

Categories: Interview Skills | Tags: college interview tips, internship interview tips, job interview tips, sharon epstein, Successful body language tips for interviews | Permalink.

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Learn How to Create a College Admissions Resume

Like most resume writing, writing a college resume can seem much harder than it really is. The most important and most difficult part of writing a resume is getting started. Yes, overcoming procrastination when writing a resume is really the hardest part. Since a resume is not only used for applying for internships and jobs, it is imperative to get one going because you will most likely need it when applying to colleges as well.

Sections to Include in a College Application Résumé

  • Heading (includes personal information – name, address, phone number, & email address)
  • Academic Profile (high school and dates attended)
  • Summer Programs Attended
  • Honors / Awards / AP / IB courses
  • SAT/ACT scores/class ranking
  • Co-Curricular Activities (school clubs, music, sports, etc.)
  • Extracurricular Activities (out-of-school groups)
  • Work and Volunteer Experience
  • Hobbies/Interests/Travel
  • Skills (Language/Computer/etc.)

College Application Résumé Tips

  1. Each experience should be included in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent.
  2. It’s important to mention any unique experiences that will help you stand apart from other candidates.
  3. Be consistent when writing your resume – abbreviations, periods, capitalization, dates.
  4. Provide any individuals who have agreed to write a recommendation with a copy of your resume.
  5. Have one or more people look at your resume prior to sending it out.
  1. Last but not least - Proofread, proofread, proofread!

What the Admissions Department Looks for in a College Resume

  1. Although you may not have worked many jobs, the college resume speaks volumes about who you are by making you put together something that shows your personal skills, interests, and values and forces you to put into words what you have done so far.
  1. You may include coursework that you think is noteworthy that would be a good addition to the overall document. If you participated in any college-level courses, this is a good thing to include as well.
  2. What about activities? Say that you are an athlete or possess music or art capabilities, the college wants to know that too. Maybe you did a lot of volunteer work or fundraising during high school which may also be noteworthy for them to understand your personal values and what kinds of things are important to you.
  3. When applying to college a one-page resume should suffice. If you have an enormous amount of writing or lab experience, put that on there too. If it does go to two pages, make sure the experiences are worth including and try to make the second page as complete as possible as well. Also, be sure to include your name and page 2 at the top of the second page. That way, if the pages should get separated, the admissions department won’t face the frustration of reviewing an incomplete resume in the process.
  4. In addition to having a lot of important information to include on your resume, it’s essential that you make sure that it is well-written. A resume that is written poorly may be rejected no matter how accomplished you have been so far.
  1. The best scenario is to have a well-written resume that shows accomplishments and involvement in a number of activities.

Tips for Writing an Effective Resume

Include any and all information that would make you stand out in the college admissions process.

  1. On your resume, it’s important to include whatever information you have that would be valuable for the Admissions Department to know. If you have received any awards or graduated #3 in your class, be sure to include that information on your resume. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many resumes where this has been left out. Modesty on a resume can be a killer. In real life, it may suit you well but when trying to earn the respect and attention in the college admissions process, it’s essential that this information is included.
  1. Although it’s important to include your accomplishments it’s just as important not to embellish on them to a point where they are unbelievable and not totally true. Embellishing on your resume can be just as damaging as not including important information that makes you stand out.

Use Bullet Points to Describe Your Experiences

When describing your experiences on your resume, it’s most effective to include them using bullet points. This makes it easy for the committee to review and makes it more effective to make your experiences stand out.

Important tips for using bullet points:

  • Begin each bullet point with an action verb.
  • Write each bullet point using specific concise language omitting articles such as an, and, and the whenever possible.
  • Include your skills and accomplishments in your bullet points rather than focusing on your responsibilities.

    Example: Researched, wrote and presented laboratory findings of water quality using samples from Hovey Pond in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Include Essential Information That Will Make a Positive Impression

Since you only have one page (two at the most) to write down all of your experiences, it is crucial that you include information that shows excellent grades, awards, leadership activities, presentation skills, as well as individual creative capabilities such as music, art, writing, and/or excellent communication and interpersonal skills. It is these types of attributes that will make you stand out from the other candidates.

  • Wrote a 5-page essay to be published in high school art magazine.
  • Led 45 students in high school’s weekend leadership development program.
  • Participated in a scientific laboratory study to establish the survival instincts of rats.
  • Treasurer, Student Government Association, Grades 9-12
  • Flute Player, St. Georges High School, Laramie, WY, Grades 9 - 12
  • Captain, Soccer Team, St. George’s High School, Laramie, WY, Fall 20XX – Spring 20XX
  • Player, Soccer Team, St. George’s High School, Laramie, WY, Fall 20XX – Present
  • Organizer, St. George’s Marathon Dance, Laramie, WY, Spring 20XX
  • Helped raise over $20,000 for scholarships to be given to underprivileged children in the school



  • GPA: 96/100
  • Graduated third in class of 425 students
  • Attended Harvard University ‘s Summer Pre-Law Program
  • Experiences:
  • The experiences below provide information that highlights writing, leadership, and research experiences that could be very useful in college.
  • Co-Curricular Activities:
  • Volunteer:
  • Fundraiser, Make A Wish Foundation, 20XX
  • Volunteer, Domestic Violence Shelter, 20XX