Winning body language for an interview
To gather the importance of body language in the interview it is important to think about why employers interview. It is usually not to put you through a lie detector test to see if all the information on your C.V. is true, rather it is to see how you would fit into the company and the role. Will you get on well with the rest of the team? For this reason body language is hugely important as these are the indicators that allow us to quickly read someone’s personality.
Speaking with a HR Manager in the banking sector he talked of how he would watch clients entering the building, seeing their posture and their interaction with the receptionist, this taught him more about the client than the interview usually did. Many employers have admitted to knowing if they would hire someone or not within the first 7 seconds of meeting them. This is not based on what the client in saying but how they are acting. When we know this we can really focus on these areas to ensure that we are making a good impression, showing that we are likeable, capable and a good team player. Here are some tips on how to use your body language to your advantage in your next interview.
When meeting the recruiter for the first time we want to exude confidence and a belief in ourselves so that the employer will believe in us. 10 minutes Before the interview try to use power postures which help to build confidence and self belief.
Use these in private not in the reception area or during the interview.
Be well dressed
Take the effort to be well dressed even if it is not required for the role, it shows that you respect the importance of the meeting and the time of the employer, it shows that you know how to be professional and that you are interested in the role.
Make sure to pay attention to the little things i.e. cleaning your nails and polishing your shoes. Try not to wear anything that would be too short or too tight as this will be distracting.
Be confident ( Fake it if you don’t feel it)
When you walk to reception walk confidently with a smile and let them know you are there for the interview. Sit with a good posture in the waiting area. If you have a coat hang it up or fold it, don’t bunch it on the seat. Ensure that you are giving the employer a vision of someone who is organised. It can be a good idea to read over your C.V. at this point to show that you are eager to do well. Always have a few copies of your C.V. with you to hand to the employer if they need it.
When the employer comes to greet you, immediately stand up and offer your hand for the handshake, smile and make eye contact. Give a confident and firm handshake. When greeting someone for the first time you can introduce yourself and tell the person that it is nice to meet them. It does not matter if it is a man or a woman you should always offer or respond to a hand shake.
This is the first greeting so make sure you are making a good impression. Give an open warm smile and make eye contact with the employer. Only let go of the handshake after they let go. Get the name of the interviewer and try to use it in the interview
Engage in positive small talk
The employer will give an initial greeting such as ‘hello, how are you’. The polite response is
‘I’m fine, thank you’ or fine, how are you?’ Be prepared for small talk about the weather, traffic or media events, this is the first part of bonding with the employer so engage in the conversation for example if the employer asks “How was your journey?” instead of saying “fine” it would be good to engage in conversation saying “ it was good, the weather is really nice today to I was able to walk and it only took 15 mins, I came here yesterday just to judge how long it would take so I was able to get here in good time today”. This also relaxes the employer and creates a connection.
Enter the interview room confidently
On entering the interview room if there are other interviewers reach across to shake their hands and say it is nice to meet them before asking if you can take a seat. Make sure that you are face to face with the person who is interviewing you.
If the seat is very far away from the desk, you can ask if you can move it in.
Keep a good posture
When sitting in the chair and make sure your posture is straight, try to lean in slightly to show interest and energy, however don’t lean in too far as this could be seen as aggressive and arrogant. Be relaxed and don’t slouch, keep your shoulders and back straight. Keep your hands clasped and try not to fidget. Do not cross your arms or legs as this creates a barrier and can change your posture to a more passive than dynamic one.
Use open hand gestures
When using gestures use open hand gestures as these show openness and honesty.
Make eye contact
If there is a panel interview make sure to keep eye contact with all interviewers when answering questions not just with the person who asked you the question or the person who seems most important as they will on be making the decision on whether to hire you or not.
Keep a warm smile on your face throughout the interview even when the questions are very tough. This will show not only are you warm and friendly but your also able to cope with pressure and difficult situations with a smile. Even if you are talking about dealing with a difficult situation, keep a smile on your face to show that you dealt calmly with that situation.
Nod every now and then to let the interviewer know that you are listening to them, but be careful not to overdo it – fast nodding can indicate that you want the other person to hurry up or stop talking.
Make your body language proves what you are saying
Ensure that your body language matches what you are saying. If you are saying that you are a warm and friendly person show this in your body language or if you are giving an example of a time when there was a conflict but you were able to remain calm, show this by keeping a smile on your face and keeping your gestures gentle. This will make what you are saying more believable to the employer.
Breda Hegarty is the Pre-employment Trainer in Business in the Community Ireland, supporting people with barriers gain employment and author of the blog www.thejobmotivator.com . For more information about our employment programme and to book an appointment for a place on our next free training course in relation to C.V.s . cover letters and Interview skills call (01) 874380 / (01) 8743814 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org