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9 Interview body language tips

Date posted: May 9, 2017

9 Interview body language tips 

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Body language makes up the majority of your communication, so no matter how good your spoken answers are, if your body language isn’t up to scratch in your next interview, you might be conveying  the exact opposite of what you want to. Mixed verbal and non-verbal messages imply a lack of credibility, and this can cause an interview to crumble. As they say, you might be able to talk the talk, but it’s no good if you can’t walk the walk!

1. First impressions

It’s really important that you are consistent in your positive body language throughout the interview, from the moment you enter the building (or even before!), treating everyone you meet professionally and with respect. When you are waiting to be called in, try to avoid checking your phone – not only does it look a bit unprofessional if you’re scrolling through Facebook, but it can put you on the back foot if the hiring manager suddenly appears, and you have to find the pocket for your phone before you can shake hands.

2. Spatial awareness

Keep a professional distance when communicating – don’t stand too close, as this can come across as intrusive, though obviously, you have to be close enough to shake hands! Also, don’t forget to practice a good, firm handshake (though, not too strong, as this can seem aggressive). Follow the interviewer’s lead when entering or leaving a room. Take a seat when invited to, not before, and stand up to shake hands.

3. Posture

Sit up and stand up straight throughout your time at the interview, as this projects confidence. However, you want to try not to be too tight or stiff – a relaxed but alert pose is best. Don’t slump in your chair, or cross your ankle over your knee – this is obviously a professional setting, and being overly casual can make it seem like you don’t care.

4. Hands

Be aware of what your hands are doing – if you know you tend to fiddle with something when talking or when you’re nervous, make sure you have a pen handy – this can stop you messing with clothes or biting fingernails, and is easier to pass off as casual. Although you might be tempted, forcing your hands to be still by shoving them in pockets or holding them behind your back can make you seem stiff and unapproachable. Work with what you’ve got – if you know you struggle with relentless hand-fidgeting, turn it into something productive. On the other end of the spectrum, chopping or pointing movements can seem aggressive, so watch out for these. In general, if you gently move your hands to emphasise a point, that’s fine – it’s all about balance!

5. Movement

Be aware of unnecessary movements, such as fidgeting, tapping, jigging a leg, or frequently touching your hair or face. These can make you look nervous, bored, or even like you are skirting the truth! It’s a good idea to show attentive listening (as we will come to shortly), but you need to find a still, calm centre, and keep yourself there.

6. Eye contact

There is a relatively fine line to walk between keeping good eye contact and staring someone out. Try to maintain a good level of eye contact, look the interviewer in the eye while they are talking, and at least some of the time when you are responding. If there are multiple interviewers, make sure to include them in your gaze, and acknowledge each one, especially whilst talking.

7. Tone of voice

Keep it calm and polite, and be aware of how loud you are. If you know you tend to speak quietly, make an effort to up the volume and make sure you come across as quietly assertive, rather than timid. Likewise, if you know you’re a bit of a boomer, make an effort to regulate this as it can seem aggressive or overbearing.

8. Mirroring

Show that you are paying attention to what the interviewer is saying by nodding at the right times, smiling, and agreeing (without interrupting). And actually listening of course! A lot of the time, people mirror automatically – leaning in at the same time, smiling, etc. but try not to overdo it. It can really freak someone out if it looks like you’re intentionally copying them. Don’t just keep on nodding at everything they say – no interviewer wants to see a nodding dog! – instead, reserve considered agreement for the really valid points that you want to pick up and respond to.

 9Personality

When you’re paying attention to all of these things and concentrating on getting the right words out and giving the right answers, it can be difficult to remember to let your personality shine. Depending on the context, it’s okay to crack a few jokes or show you have a sense of humour. Playing it cool can take precedence in your mind, but an interview is also about whether you would fit in with the company, so you’ve got to let them get to know you a bit too. If they ask what you’re interested in, or passionate about, it is important to let that passion come out. Be sincere.

This enthusiasm can be especially difficult if your interview is the latest in a long line of unsuccessful ones, but that is all the more reason to make sure that you’re thinking about what your body language is saying this time. It might be the one thing that swings it in your favour!

There’s quite a lot to think about if you’re coming back to interviewing after a while in the same job (or especially if you’ve not interviewed much before), but exposure and practice really do make a difference. Preparation helps – if you feel confident that you know what you’re going to say, looking confident comes naturally.

It’s also good to prepare just before you go into the interview. To make sure you feel comfortable and composed, consider finding a mirror to check your appearance and straighten your clothes beforehand – then you won’t be worrying about having windswept hair, or something stuck in your teeth! Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Then don’t relax this composure until you’re well out of eye (and ear) shot

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