The phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ is rarely more important than in an interview. Studies suggest that 55% of a response is body language, while only 7% is attributed to the content of your reply. This means that it’s very easy to say all the right things but still give the wrong impression.
Whether you’re a recent graduate or just out of practice in an interview, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to make sure that your body language matches what you’re saying.
It’s all well and good having a strategy once you get in there, but if you’ve nearly run over your interviewer in the car park and insulted the receptionist, chances are you’re not going to get the job. As soon as you see the building, try and compose yourself. Walk in confidently but, most importantly, calmly and engage with the people around you. If you act like you want to be there, people will want you to be there.
By now you probably know the basic rule: not too weak, not too strong. A friendly, firm handshake can even diminish the impact of any minor misdemeanors in the coming interview. Check out this article on just how powerful a handshake can be: http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/handshakes-impressions-persuasion/
Don’t spend the whole time looking at your feet or with your eyes darting nervously around the room, but also don’t make your interviewer uncomfortable. Contrary to popular belief, increased eye-contact is a sign of dishonesty, used as a way of overcompensating. Science has shown that it’s best to look in someone’s eyes but also around their face to avoid entering into an awkward one-sided staring contest.
You may have heard of the ‘power poses’ pictured. No, crossing your legs and leaning back on your chair won’t make someone want to hire you. Neither will refusing a seat and standing with your hands on your hips. But there is truth in the sentiment that if you look small, you will feel small. Sit up straight with an open chest, like a string is pulling you up through the centre of your head. You can lean forward to show engagement but absolutely do not slouch as it will make you seem disinterested and lazy. Find out more about how your posture can help your mood here: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/How-posture-influences-mood-energy-thoughts-4784543.php
Playing with your hair, tapping your pen, crossing and un-crossing your legs at 30 second intervals – all of these are distracting for the interviewer. Bear in mind that you probably aren’t the first or last candidate this person will interview. If you make the interviewer feel at ease they will likely remember your application in a positive light. If you really struggle, this article explains how to curb those nervous habits.
Engage with the interviewer. Smile and nod in agreement, though not so much that you risk mimicking a Churchill figure on a car dashboard. With all those interviewees, the last thing they want is to feel like you’re bored and are wasting their time. When you respond, get animated. If they’ve asked you what your interests are, act interested. If you’re explaining your love for re-building computers while completely deadpan, they’re not going to believe you.
Gesticulation can be a good thing but you should be careful what your hand movements are really saying. Try not to bring them above the line of your chin as it suggests being frantic, while spreading your fingers portrays a lack of confidence. When you place your hands back down, try to keep your palms facing upward and keep your hands visible. This makes you seem much more honest and open. Business Insider have written this post on exactly what to do with your hands during an interview.
These things are so basic, but really worth bearing in mind when you’ve come far enough in the process to have a face-to-face interview.
Or if you think you’re ready, take a look at our Job Board to put your skills into practice!