How to master body language in an interview
In an increasingly digital world the importance of face-to-face communication and body language is easy to overlook. In an interview situation, body language can be a game-changer.
Before you say a word, the interviewer will have made crucial decisions about you through the way you communicate with your body and through your facial expressions. Of course, what you actually say in an interview is still crucial, but the interviewer will also be watching to determine if the body language is consistent with what you are saying.
Master your body language and get the right message across with the following dos and don’ts:
First impressions do count
And that’s the impressions of everyone you meet on the day of the interview – in the lift, in the reception area, even in the toilets. These people are your potential colleagues and they need to get the impression that you would like to join their team.
Look ready and prepared, not flustered and late. Be approachable and friendly, smile, make eye contact and give a firm but not forceful handshake.
Stand, walk, and sit with good posture as it relates directly back to people’s perception of high confidence.
Gesturing with open palms at exactly navel height is an instant way to show you are calm, assertive and confident.
Show an interest in the business
Demonstrate you are listening to the questions and to the information about the role and the organization.
Engage with the interviewer don’t just answer their questions, lean forward, use your body, hands and facial expressions.
Give good eye contact , ideally about 65-70% when conversing, and a little more when you are the listener. Any less can be perceived as a lack of interest or confidence in what you are saying.
Demonstrate energy, positivity and enthusiasm
Use your hands and body movement to emphasise and animate your points and project a dynamic presence – but don’t get carried away.
Aim to show passion and belief in your achievements and views.
As well as having your own body language mastered, take notice of how your interviewers are behaving too. Do they appear confused, bored, agitated, disengaged, entertained, trying to ask the next question?
If you are able to read their non-verbal cues and adapt your responses accordingly and you will make their job easier and demonstrate yourself to be a skilled communicator. Nod and smile to show you understand and subtly try mirroring the interviewer’s posture and pose. This builds rapport and empathy.
Don’t let your body language betray how nervous you are
You can’t stop the nervous looking behaviours that your body produces, but you can counter them with confident ones.
If you choose to perform the behaviours of a confident person – even when you don’t feel it – your interviewer will have a theory of mind that you are confident.
Leg shaking, hair playing, hand wringing, pen clicking, teeth sucking and clock watching never make a great impression.
Don’t arrive unprepared
One of the best ways to avoid nerves tripping you up is to prepare before the interview.
Practise with a friend or family members and get their feedback on how they perceive you. You’ll be surprised at just what you do that you don’t realise, as most of our body language is unconscious.