As a job candidate, successful interview techniques are the key to achieving the position you want. An important point to remember – hiring managers not only pay attention to what you say but how you say it. You can’t underestimate the impact of body language in an interview. It plays a far more critical role in communication than most people think.
Formally referred to as kinesics, body language is the interpretation of body movement communication. This could include facial expressions, gestures, and any nonverbal behaviour of the body. According to researcher Albert Mehrabian, the importance of various communication channels may be represented by the percentages 55/38/7 – body language, tone of voice, and words respectively. With body language being the loudest, it pays to know how to present yourself in the best possible way.
Looking for interview body language tips? Here are some moves you can use to ensure you put your best foot forward in an interview.
Check your posture
It’s essential to sit up straight (but not rigidly) and avoid slouching in your chair during the interview. The same applies when you are standing up and waiting for your interviewer. Poor posture conveys disinterest or boredom, both traits that an employer is unlikely to want in their new hire. So keep your head up and shoulders back as you talk to the person who could be your future boss.
Lock eyes with them
Maintaining active eye contact is important when speaking to someone, as it shows that you are confident in what you are saying. It can also make the other person feel more comfortable and trusting of you.
Breaking eye contact too often while speaking can be distracting and make it seem like you are not interested in the conversation. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between making eye contact and breaking it occasionally so that you come across as authentic and sincere.
What to do with your arms and hands in an interview?
Your body language during an interview says a lot about how you’re feeling. For example, crossing your arms is often seen as a sign of vulnerability. However, it’s more important to feel comfortable during the interview than try to appear calm and collected. So don’t worry about keeping your arms crossed – just be mindful of how you’re doing it. It would help to keep your arms relaxed so you can gesture naturally. This will come across as more inviting and trustworthy than hiding your hands.
Speaking of hands, good use of hand gestures can reinforce what you’re saying and help get your point across effectively. For example, moving your hands away from your body can show that you are making progress towards a goal, or keeping your arms outstretched can demonstrate your efforts towards meeting objectives.
Watch your moves – what to avoid for a successful interview
How you carry yourself during the interview gives your potential boss a good indication of your interest in the position. Leaning away from the interviewer suggests that you don’t value what they have to say, which is not a good sign for future collaboration. On the other hand, leaning slightly towards them shows that you respect their opinions and would be pleasant to work with.
Different behaviours may affect how you are perceived. For example, scratching your head can make you look disinterested while drumming your fingers on a table in front of you can make you appear easily distracted. Fidgeting during an interview can be a real turn-off for interviewers. In fact, a survey of over 500 hiring managers found that 26% of them have skipped hiring an applicant because they fidgeted too much.
Likewise, rubbing the nose, eyes, or side of the face can come across as shifty or dishonest. Crossing your arms in front of your chest can make you appear arrogant and unfriendly while rocking back and forth or leaning down in your chair can make you look lazy and disinterested. Finally, repeatedly crossing your legs can signal nervousness and discomfort.
How to get body language right in a video interview
Body language is one of the most important communication tools we have, but in the digital world, it can be easy to misinterpret or misunderstand someone’s intentions. So says Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance.
While making an authentic connection when you’re not face-to-face is challenging, the following body language strategies can help:
- When you’re on a video call, keeping the camera at eye level is essential. This will help you make eye contact with the other person, creating a more emotionally connected conversation. Instead of watching yourself or the other person in the gallery view, focus on keeping your gaze on the camera about 60% of the time.
- When sitting in your chair during an interview, sit up straight with a relaxed posture. This shows the interviewer that you are engaged and interested in the conversation. The camera should be placed far enough back for hand gestures to be visible. Hand gestures can add depth and sincerity to what you are saying.
- Make sure you smile – it can improve your mood and make a difference in how you come across in an interview. Smiling is contagious, so you might end up making the other person smile too. Just get your timing right. It’s appropriate to smile when you greet your interviewer, when you’re sharing your thoughts about something you’re passionate about during the interview, and when you bid them farewell after the interview.
When used correctly, your body language in an interview can be a very influential tool. It shows others that you are confident and collected, which inevitably makes a positive impression. Remember that your movements should come naturally – try not to overthink them and you will successfully convey the desired message.
Give the right impression in your interview
Nailing your interview requires preparation and practice – including getting your body language right. Interview Skills provides personalised, practical training programmes to help you improve your interview skills and increase your chances of getting hired for your dream job. Contact us to learn more.