Body Language Tips for Interviews 5th March 2018

Body language is a well-covered topic, one that cannot be comprehensively covered within this guide. There are many conflicting views on certain aspects of it and sometimes even the “experts” get it wrong.

However, it does pay to be aware of the basics and to spend some time thinking about your own body language as well as other peoples.

It is estimated* that 55% of communication is made up of body language, a further 38% from voice tone and only 7% from actual words spoken. 

Based on these figures body language is about 12 times more important in communication than what you say. 

In other words, investing some time in to researching body language will be worthwhile!

Let’s look at some of the core principles that may be useful to know in an interview situation.


The Eyes Have It


Eye contact can be a tricky one; not enough eye contact can be interpreted as a sign that someone is being dishonest, while too much can be a little disturbing!

Rather than worry too much about the percentage of time you hold their gaze for, consider meeting their eyes when you begin talking and allow them to naturally wander as you talk before meeting them again as you finish.

A “business gaze” should be fixed at the person’s eye level. Our gaze drops lower in social situations and even lower in intimate situations; keep a look out for this at the next opportunity!

Barriers


When we are uncomfortable or nervous we will form barriers across our body; folding our arms is a typical reaction. Fiddling with a cufflink, holding a clutch bag up to our chest or holding a pen at both ends are more subtle reactions.  

This is likely to be something we can control, and may need to, at an interview, particularly the folded arm gesture. Folding our arms may be a perfectly natural reaction when subconsciously make to hide our nerves but it can be misread as aggression or boredom, both unlikely to help our chances!

Leg barriers are similar, perhaps we cross one leg over the other. You may be able to cross your legs underneath a table, particularly if it is just the ankles, without a negative impact but beware, definitely do not cross your arms and legs at the same time. In fact, if you do, you should probably leave anyway, as something is obviously upsetting you!

Definitely do not cross your legs in a position with one ankle rested on top of your other knee/thigh.

Head Positions


Leaning your head to either side as the interviewer is talking will show interest. Animals do this as well, if you have a dog try talking to him or her and watching them tilt!

Leaning your head back would signify arrogance or disapproval.

I Want To Leave


Imagine yourself in a situation that you cannot wait to end; what body signals are you giving off?

If you are sitting you are likely leaning forward, perhaps with your hands on your knees or the chair waiting to push yourself towards the exit!

Beware this one in yourself and the interviewer.

You may have had a fantastic interview and you just want to get off stage whilst on a high! But be patient, do not show signs that you cannot wait to get out of the door.

Alternatively, you may be talking too much at the end of the interview and they want to leave. Look out for the signs, a move to stand up whilst you are between sentences, a closing of a pad or a putting down of a pen.

Fidgeting


Not good.

You Cannot Fake It


Not for long anyway.

This guide only scratches the surface and there are many more body language clues available to the expert. You do not need to be an expert, you just need to be aware of some key elements that may affect your chances of success.

One thing you cannot do is hide it. You will be giving off multiple signals at any one time and many of them will be picked up unconsciously anyway, so don’t try. If you do you will come off looking worse!

Do try to be aware of the main ones and do be aware of the behaviour of others. But do not fake it.

Later on in the Dream Job Project you can download a meeting note template that we recommend you take to all of your interviews. As well as show you as a well prepared professional, it will give you a natural barrier, somewhere to avert your gaze and you can take notes instead of fidget nervously!

4 birds with 1 stone!


*Research conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian