We all tend to think that we are an expert on body language and people often give out body language tips. Yet not many of us are.
Various studies have shown that we communicate mainly through nonverbal means (7% through words, 38% intonation, 55% non-verbal).
And yet most of us don’t know what we are saying! So awareness and practice are important for when the interview nerves hit.
Otherwise, you’ll be communicating completely the wrong messages – such as you’re not confident or that you’re arrogant, or that you’re lacking manners, or miserable, etc.
People start to form an impression of you within 20-30 seconds of seeing you and that impression can stay with them despite what might follow for the rest of the hour or so that you’re in the interview room.
Therefore understanding your body language can be crucial to helping to leave a good first impression. The main things that count at an interview are as follows:
- Regular eye contact
- Head nodding
- Firm handshake
- Loud voice
- Sitting upright in the chair
Of my body language tips above, the three most important are regular eye contact, head nodding, and smiling according to various studies that have been carried out by business psychologists.
While these are seemingly easy to get right it can take a bit of practice. So as well as practicing your interview answers you will also want to practice the body language characteristics outlined above.
One of the simplest things to do, and paradoxically the most difficult, is smiling during the interview. It is difficult because the candidate typically feels very nervous when they are being judged.
The way to overcome this is to prepare and practice well ahead of your interview. By smiling you instantly start to form rapport and engage with your interviewers. This is crucial to your success at winning over the interviewers. You will seem more passionate and self-motivated.
Two candidates could give identical answers to questions but not necessarily score the same results. It’s the body language that makes the difference.
Of course, you don’t want to appear like a grinning, inane school child so one tip would be to smile when you have announced a positive outcome or something about which you are naturally enthused.
Good eye contact can also be an area of body language that some people struggle with. So this is one of our key body language tips to take on board. Too much and you seem a little aggressive or intimidating.
Not enough (which is most common) and you seem to lack confidence or sufficient gravitas. A case in point was a friend who approached me for some interview experience and practice.
She had a habit of looking down when she was thinking about her answer. Her head also went down and her shoulders slumped. It made her look hesitant and self-doubting.
Now she is a lady with natural ‘presence’ and charisma but you wouldn’t have known it when she did this.
In her case, the solution was to prepare her answers much more beforehand and to practice in front of a video so that she could see the difference. (If you don’t have an expensive video you could even use your smartphone).
When you are talking from the heart you will appear to be genuinely passionate about the subject, your eyes will light up and you’ll naturally want to smile.
That said, when you are fazed by a question it can start to become more apparent in your body language.
Therefore, the more you practice answering interview questions the more natural it will become and this should help you to keep your composure.