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!
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
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.
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.
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
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