Body Language in an Interview
There’s a lot to worry about before an interview – are you wearing the right clothes? Have you prepared well enough? But have you ever thought about your body language? Research suggests that between 60% and 70% of human communication is nonverbal behaviour – in other words, body language. Your interview is actually composed of two conversations at the same time: one with words, the other with subtle social cues. Subtle body cues and social signals comprise more of the interviewer’s impression of you than your CV or what you say during the interview. So even if you’ve got the perfect skills and experience, have fully researched the company and have given the best answers to their questions, if you come across as unfriendly, distant or disrespectful, it’s unlikely the interviewer is going to think you are right for their company.
These negative social cues are often just down to nerves, so even though you might feel you are ready to explode with anxiety, here are some quick tips on body language to help you appear relaxed and confident on the day:
First impressions count, and nothing says confidence like a firm handshake. So when your interviewer approaches you, grasp their hand firmly, smile and make eye contact. Eye contact is very important as it instantly establishes rapport and conveys mutual understanding and attention. Approach the interviewer with an open stance, which signals friendliness and honesty.
When you sit down to talk, don’t slouch or lean back as these both imply disinterest. Sit straight up and lean slightly towards your interviewer, suggesting respect and attentiveness. Be sure to nod occasionally, smile and leave your hands casually in your lap or resting on the arms of the chair. In difficult situations we are often inclined to fold our arms across our body. This helps us to feel more secure, but during a job interview it can be interpreted as a defensive move. It’s worth observing your interviewer’s body language to make sure you are both on the same page.
Don’t be distracting
Be careful of fidgeting. Playing with your hair or scratching your skin is a tell-tale sign of nervousness. Shuffling your feet or tapping your fingers can also be very annoying. Keep your focus on the interviewer and what they are saying as this shows that you are attentive and a good listener.
Remember to relax
Unfortunately stress shows in your face and throughout your entire body, and it can be difficult to hide unless you are genuinely relaxed. So try your best to be as relaxed as possible. Think positively and do some deep breathing before the interview to help calm you. And remember, as badly as you want this job, you’ll have other opportunities. Don’t put undue stress on yourself by believing that one mistake will change the course of your life. This is the first of many job interviews you’ll go on in your lifetime. It’s normal to be nervous, but try and turn that feeling into excitement.
You’ve made it to the end of the interview, but it’s not quite over yet. Stand up, smile, and shake hands. Be respectful and thank the interviewer for their time. Exchange the necessary pleasantries and leave slowly, and confidently.
To begin with you may feel like you have to concentrate a lot on your body language, but this will improve over time and soon you will be showing positive social cues in your interviews without even thinking about it.
Although body language won’t get you a job on its own it could the icing on the cake that makes you stand out from other candidates. Your interviewer will remember you as a confident, assertive, friendly, and honest applicant – all the important characteristics that employers look for in an employee. So whether you get the job or not, at least you came across as confident and professional.