Interview Body Language
How to breeze through the interview
. . . . . . and land your perfect job!
"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital" .. Joe Paterno, American Football Coach
Congratulations! You´ve received the call and got an interview lined up for that all important job. But this is only the beginning!
You may have the qualifications, brushed up on your question & answer technique, researched the company and bought a new suit. But, is this enough? No! Before you go to the interview take time out to brush up on your body language skills.
Aspects of Body Language
Many people think body language is irrelevant to the interview process; however, we know it is a vital part of any communication. Often the interviewer will analyse your body language - what you do with your eyes, your mannerisms, facial expressions and body movement - and the wrong body language - if perceived to be negative - can work against you.
First impressions do count! Make sure yours is the right one and put your best foot forward when you walk into the interview room.
Here are a few tips to ensure your interview success!
It begins with your own self-confidence. Practice walking confidently with an upright confident posture - but not arrogant or cocky.
Adopt a pleasant calm, relaxed and positive expression, head held at a level to make direct eye contact.
When the time comes to shake hands, be ready to make a firm handshake - neither overpowering, cold, hot or clammy.
Remain standing until invited to sit down, and if you lean slightly forward towards the interview you will demonstrate your interest.
Keep your focus, and try not to let the daily office routines around you distract from the interviewer questions.
Mirroring . . .
Irrespective of your industry, job or career, it can be a useful exercise to benchmark and mirror the body language of people you can learn from.
Watching the interactions of successful people can provide valuable guidance as to what works. Conversely, if you know someone who keeps getting it wrong you can learn from what they do what can cause offence, and then distance yourself from that behaviour.
The concept of mirroring arose from the human-trait of `like attracting like´ as people tend to warm towards those who appear similar to themselves. By observing and reflecting back the body language of the interviewer, they are likely to feel more at ease, in tune and friendly towards you.
Watch for clues to read the interviewer´s body language as this will help you to identify subtle aspects of their attitude and reaction towards you. For example, a distant expression could indicate your answers are too lengthy and it is time to get to the point.
Remember, your knowledge, understanding and interpretation of body language is a key aspect of intelligent listening.
Lower Peripheral Movement . . .
The way that you sit conveys an important message.
The general view is that confidence and composure is conveyed if you do not fidget, shuffle paperwork, move your legs and arms around. If you find this difficult, one way to overcome the problem is to sit well back in the chair, keep your feet firmly planted on the floor, arms on the armrests of your chair, hands in your lap with fingers of both hands making a low steeple.
Arm folding across your body is often interpreted as a defensive stance and is, therefore, a definite no no!
Be responsive, if being interviewed by more than one person, turn and learn forward towards the person speaking to you directly, and tilt your head slightly and nod occasionally - as this will indicate your interest in what they have to say.
Eye Contact . . .
Eye contact is important and is a way of showing that you are interested in and listening to the interviewer.
This can be achieved by looking towards the interviewer´s eye-to-tip-of-nose triangular area - and glancing away occasionally so as not to give too direct a stare and cause discomfort.
It is important to look at all the interviewers in the room to an equal extent. When asked a question by one interviewer, it is polite to direct your answer firstly to that person and then take turns looking at the other interviewers as well so everyone concerned is given your attention.
Business Cultures . . .
It is worth mentioning that it is important for non-verbal behaviours to be in sync with the expectations of your targeted business culture, otherwise you might be perceived as less qualified, less suitable or less capable.
The different business cultures can be categorised as either conservative, academic or casual:-
- The conservative business culture is typified as a traditional professional office environment - banks, offices, law firms, accountancy practices - with a structured approach to practices and procedures. Dress is usually quite formal, as is body language in terms of showing respect to those higher up the hierarchy, with limited socialising etc
- The casual business culture can be more modern, with a much more relaxed dress code. Interactions tend to be more casual , open and communicative - with business overlapping into the social arena
- The academic business culture places an emphases on creativity, analytical thinking, knowledge-sharing and research. Respectful non-verbal behaviours are generally the order of the day, with emphasis on one to one and group meetings and relationship building
At the end of the interview
No matter how you perceive your interview went, make sure you leave the interview location with confidence and poise. Shake hands, make contact and walk with confidence all the way to the car - you never now who might be watching! Key points to remember . . .
- Walk with an upright and confident posture
- Shake hands firmly
- Steady eye contact
- Calm relaxed expression
- Mirror the interviewer´s body language
- Lean slightly towards the interviewer speaking
- Understand and adapt to the business culture
Finally, send a courtesy `after interview¨ thank-you letter - this will keep you in the interviewer´s mind and they will appreciate an indicatin of your continued interest in the role
If you would like to work with a Consultant to perfect your interview
technique - including mock interviews covering some of the trickier
issues or any problems you envisage - please GET IN TOUCH