The Importance of Body Language in Acing an Interview
Whether or not our brain is conscious of it, our bodies speak their own language. This language conveys what we’re feeling, thinking and our level of interest in the spoken conversation.
It’s common for people to practise answers to potential questions or memorise particularly important segments of their CV prior to an interview. What many people forget to think about however is what their body is telling an interviewer.
With this in mind, here are our top tips for using body language to ace your next interview.
Confidence is key right? But how do you utilise this through your body? If you’re standing up, stand up straight with your head held high and your chin square. If your sitting down, sit all the way back in your chair (don’t slouch). Think perfect posture.
Good posture sends a signal of assuredness, success and confidence whereas slouching / poor posture tells the interviewer that you’re maybe not that confident or don’t believe in what you’re saying.
The other obvious projector of confidence is maintaining eye contact. That isn’t to say your should bore holes through the interviewer by constantly staring them down the whole interview – you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable – but maintaining a good level of eye contact indicates respect, engagement and most of all confidence.
It’s in the Walk
If you have to do the extended walk towards your potential employer think about your gait. Similar to sitting or standing, how you walk projects an image of yourself through your posture. A shoulders back and down walk with your head held high displays confidence. Walking directly towards the interviewer not only shows confidence but a sense of being a proactive “go getter” type personality.
Mirror Your Interviewer
This is a technique utilised by salespeople the world round. Used properly, it is a powerful technique and allows people to connect on a subconscious physical level as well as in conversation.
The concept of mirroring is exactly as it sounds. If the interviewer leans forward in excitement, the candidate should lean forward to mirror that excitement. Leaning in specifically shows that you’re interested in and engaged with what the other person is saying.
If the interviewer is a bit more mellow or a more serious personality type, use you body to mirror their personality signals.
What are your Hands Doing?
Your hands are a vital part of your body language. If your hands are fidgeting, playing with part of your clothing or being hidden from view, your body language is sending signals of anxiety or having something to hide. In contrast, if your hands are actively engaged in the conversation (hand gestures) or folded calmly in your lap you are sending signs of confidence.
Keep the following in mind – innate human instinct is to fear or distrust people who don’t show the palms of their hands. Having your palms facing upwards in your gestures signals engagement, openness and honesty to your interview on the subconscious level.
What are your Feet Doing?
Similar to you hands, your feet (if visible) tell a story. Are your feet tapping in anxiety or boredom or are they firmly and comfortably planted on the ground as relaxed as you are?
Nod Your Head
When you go into frontline management courses, one of the things they will spout over and over again is the concept of “active listening”. Whilst we’re not going through the concept itself, the physical motion of nodding your head at the right times during a conversation lets the other person know that you are in fact actively listening and catching their drift.
School Your Breathing
Aside from being a great technique to calm those butterflies in your tummy, deep, regular breathing exudes a sense of calm, cool and collected confidence. This is because it reduces the heart rate, hormonal stress levels and blood pressure. If you really want to master this particular skill, most experts recommend breathing in when asked a question and answering on the exhale.
For Phone Interviews?
Yes, it is true that your body cannot be seen during a phone interview. Yes, it is just as true that your body language during a phone interview is vital.
Why? Your body language can reflect through your voice. There’s a whole lot of science in this that connects the capacity of your lungs and vocal projection to your posture, but in short, if you are slouched or lying on the couch, it will reflect in the energy levels of your voice.
We always advocate to our candidates the following when approaching a phone interview:
- Get dressed as though you were meeting face to face – this puts your brain in a professional head space.
- Stand up and walk around – there’s a reason that people say “thinking on you feet”, moving around actively wakes up your brain and opens up your posture into what we call a “power pose” and allows your brain to make faster connections with your memories.