Body Language at Interview – Maximising Your Potential
INTERVIEW BODY LANGUAGE – THEY KEY TO SUCCESS
Preparation for interview is key (read our preparation guide here : How to Prepare for an Interview: 6 Top Tips). From knowing your cv inside out, having practiced potential questions that may arise and how you will respond, right down to how you dress and present yourself. (read our preparation guide here : Infographic: How To Dress For Interview Success). If you fail to prepare you fail to succeed, however no matter how much preparation goes in – sometimes your mood can fail you.
What happens inside those four walls of the office or interview location on the day can affect the strategy you had prepared for. In order to have real success you need to be able to adapt and work with those changes.
One major factor of interview success is knowing how to use your body language to give the best impression and communicate in the best possible way through the subliminal signals your actions convey. Something as simple as body language can give off a good or bad impression.
Having the ability to pick up on signals and messages that the interviewer is giving off also gives you a chance to have some control of the interview. Without knowing what to look for, you may feel an interview went well only to find out it was unsuccessful. Knowing what to watch for means you can see if something you say causes a negative reaction by interviewer’s body language telling you so.
Body language of the Interviewee
Whether you realise it or not, you are “on” from the minute you arrive at the premises for interview.
If you are carrying documents or anything else needed for the interview, have it out and be carrying it with you, in a folder or professionally presented.
Do not arrive and start rooting through a bag for the necessary material, you will look flustered and unprepared, which gives the impression that’s how you approach your professional work life – really!
Everyone you meet from the receptionist to the person who takes you to the interview room and the interviewer themselves, greet everyone with a warm and welcoming manner, smile and be professional. Often the interviewer will ask the receptionist or the person who let you in what their impression of you was. Ensure you are welcoming, confident, without being cocky, and stand tall with your shoulders back. Give off a good impression to everyone you meet.
A firm handshake (without crushing the other person’s hand) shows confidence and a genuine nature of character.
Even if you are feeling nervous, do not offer a limp handshake, which indicates immediately that you are uninterested and perhaps weak of character, before the interview has even begun.
Stand Tall, Sit Tall
Walk tall, stand straight, sit straight in your chair as if a string were connecting your head to the ceiling all the time. This conveys confidence to the interviewer, and can make you feel more confident. It is scientifically proven that standing tall and opening up our body causes our brains to produce hormones making us feel more powerful, so this is an easy win-win step.
Read more here on power posing and the effects it can have on your career overall based in study and research by Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Could Change Your Career
Feet on the Floor
Women in particular can be prone to crossing their legs but it is best to keep feet straight, planted on the floor, or crossed at the ankle. There are several reasons for this – crossing your legs at interview causes your body to lean back in your seat which could communicate arrogance.
In addition to this; According to Wood and Reiman, Mashable “ …it’s difficult to answer highly complex questions unless both of your feet are on the ground…It has to do with being able to go back and forth easily between the limbic reptilian brain to the neocortex brain.” –
Keeping your feet on the ground allows the brain to go between creative thought and highly complex rational thought.
Allow yourself to use your hands, arms and upper body to express a point. Strong and confident communicators naturally do this; it shows you are passionate about the topic you are discussing.
This creation of open space between you and the interviewer through openness of the body expresses sincerity and shows warmth and a want to engage with them, just as folded arms communicates the opposite!
Just keep it under control, not so much hand expression that the interviewer becomes distracted by your movements!
Regardless of nerves, do not fidget! Pulling at your sleeves, touching your face/ hair or twisting jewellery can be a constant distraction to both parties in the interview. This emits nervous energy and communicates to the interviewer that you are not focused on what is happening or a genuine lack of interest. It can also indicate a lack of confidence in yourself as a person which may cause them to question your ability to do the job.
If you are nervous, focus on your breathing to keep you centred and concentrated at the task at hand, calm slow breathing through your nose will keep you calm and engaged.
Also no matter what – do not fidget with your phone during an interview. Ensure before you walk through the door that it is turned off, or on silent. Using your phone can show a lack of interest in the interview.
Make sure to hold eye contact with the interviewer, as you would if you were talking with a friend. Holding eye contact shows sincerity, confidence and ease within your own skin. Don’t stare or lock eye contact as this is interpreted as rude and un-nerving. If this is something you find hard, you can still keep engaged by moving your gaze gently to different parts of the interviewer’s face, from eyes, to nose, to lips, so you’re not simply staring eye them in the eyes continuously.
However, don’t dart your eyes, keep it soft and natural. Shifty eyes indicate that you may be lying!
Nod your head while listening
Nodding your head while listening is to what the interviewer is saying, shows you are hearing what they are saying, and that you are engaging and understanding their point or question.
However, no-one likes a nodding dog. Use this gesture naturally; nodding occasionally shows you are enjoying what is being said while excessive nodding shows a weak character, agreeing to everything their senior is saying. It shows an individual without a mind of their own. The interviewer wants to hire someone they can work with, but also someone who will be true and mind the interests of the business rather than simply agree with everything.
Body language of the Interviewer
It is good to know what signs to watch for so that you know if the interview is going well or not.
Like you, if the interviewer is engaged and interested in what you’re saying, they will keep good eye contact with you. Should you notice eye contact decreasing it means they are losing interest or may be preparing to wrap up the interview!
If the interviewer is leaning towards you while asking questions or engaging in conversation, it indicates their genuine interest in you and what you have to say.
Similarly, when the interviewer leans back in their chair it shows a break in engagement or a mental “check out”, notice this sign and change the direction of what you are saying or ask them a question to bring them back into engaging with you.
Watch when and how your interviewer takes notes. If you say something and they seem to pause or go silent before making notes, this may indicate something negative, or something they might want to explore further or are unsure off. However, if they are smiling and engaging with you or at the very least seem interesting in what you are saying, asking you to elaborate and then you see note taking – chances are you have said something they are intrigued or impressed by.
Either way, when you see notes being take, remember this as you may be asked about this again later
If you notice at any point that you and the interviewer are mirroring each other in body language and the general atmosphere is positive, keep going, you are doing well. As humans we mirror each other’s body language when we are comfortable and interested in the other party, engaged in what they are saying.
Remember – Prepare well in advance.
Preparation is everything, so perhaps practicing your body language with a friend or in front of a mirror. Do you make small movements and cues, that you had not noticed when you are talking? Be cognisant of them and use the guides above to make sure you and your body give yourself the best chance at interview.
If you are working with a recruiter in your job search, as them for honest feedback after they first meet and interview you. Knowledge is power = so ensure you know what you have done wrong and how to correct it will help you as much as knowing what you should do right!
Think you got what it takes to rock your upcoming interview? Get in touch with us by applying for the job you were searching for!