Making your body language work for you
First impressions count! Our body language can be make or break us when it comes to meeting someone for the first time. However confident and well-spoken you are, poor body language will work against you in an interview. You want to avoid any chance of being misinterpreted, so follow these simple dos and don’ts to ensure you stand out – for the right reasons.
A firm handshake shows confidence.
- Look your interviewer in the eye and smile as you extend your hand. This shows that you feel confident, even if you really don’t.
- Hold firmly. A weak handshake gives the impression that you’re timid and insecure.
- Squeeze so hard that they yelp in pain.
- Over-enthusiastically bounce their arm up and down.
We don’t generally think about our posture as we’re simply sitting or standing, but this can project how confident we feel and how engaged we are in the conversation. It also helps to build rapport between you and your interviewer.
- Aim to sit with your lower back touching the back of the chair and your feet firmly on the floor. This gives a professional and confident start to the interview.
- Lean forward slightly towards your interviewer. This shows that you’re interested in what they’re saying.
- Keep your hands in your lap.
- Slump – it’s unprofessional and gives the impression that you’re not interested.
- Lean too far forward – they’ll think you can’t wait to get away.
- Cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets. You don’t want to appear stiff and unfriendly.
- Get too relaxed, you can end up looking unprofessional. For example, avoid putting your ankle on your other knee. This could be interpreted as laziness.
- Rock backwards and forwards in your chair – they’ll think you need to go to the loo.
There’s a fine line between eye contact that builds rapport and that which makes the other person feel uncomfortable.
- Maintain eye contact during conversations (eight seconds is good), then briefly glance away.
- Look up from your note-taking (if you’re taking notes) when the interviewer asks you a question or they’re explaining something.
- Avoid looking at your interviewer.
- Look at your hands as you’re talking
- Stare at your interviewer without taking a break – you’ll freak them out.
The speed, tone and pitch at which you speak contributes to the impression you give.
- Speak in your normal voice – friendly, knowledgeable and as confident as possible.
- Vary your tone and pitch, you don’t want to come across as boring and you do want to emphasize certain points about why they should choose you.
- Try to control your voice. If you are nervous, take a deep breath to help you relax before speaking.
- Speak too fast. Jabbering can make you hard to understand and you will appear nervous.
- Sound apologetic or defensive, as this shows you feel insecure.
Use your body language to show you’re engaging with, and feel connected to, your interviewer.
- Nod your head to show you agree and understand what they’re saying.
- Tilt your head slightly to show you’re listening carefully.
- Be aware of fidgeting and try to control it.
- Use your hands to emphasise points you feel passionate about.
- Mirror your interviewer’s body language. This is something we do naturally when we build a rapport with someone. To speed things along, make a conscious effort to adopt a similar pose.
- Bob your head up and down constantly, as that could seem like you’re just agreeing with everything and not actually listening to them.
- Wave your arms around like a windmill.
- Play with your hair, drum on the desktop or tap your feet. These sort of actions are conscious, we’re not always aware we’re doing them. But they are distractions and may be seen as signs you are bored or have trouble focusing.
- Keep touching your nose – it’s a sign you may be lying.
- Copy everything they do – that’s just creepy!
Your interviewer’s body language
Building rapport is a two way street. Reading your interviewer’s body language can give you an idea about how he or she is responding to you. As the mood relaxes, does their body language adapt to mirror yours?
Following these simple guidelines will give you a head start in the confidence stakes. Call us today on 020 8532 2644 if you would like a more personalised coaching session to ensure you perform to superstar standard in your next interview!