Some people claim that over 90 per cent of communication is non-verbal. While this figure may seem a little high, it can’t be contested that what you say is very quickly undermined if your body language is saying something else entirely. Success at a job interview isn’t just about what you say, your body needs to tell the story too.
Here are our top tips for ensuring you make the right impression at a job interview with your body language:
Arm yourself for success
At the beginning of an interview, be sure to give the interviewer a strong – but not bone crushing – hand shake.
Think about what you’re doing with your hands. Many people have small body language tics, and these tend to become exaggerated when we are nervous. Ask those close to you if they have noticed any of your habits. If you do have a tendency – such as twisting your hair round your fingers or touching your ear – you need to eradicate it, as self-soothing behaviour like this will make you look nervous and like you don’t really believe in what you’re saying. Being aware of your bad body language habits is half the battle.
Never fold your arms. This immediately creates a barrier between you and the interviewer, and can make you look hostile or arrogant. Similarly, keep hand gestures controlled and emphatic. Overdo it and your flailing arms will quickly become distracting to the interviewer.
The eyes have it
Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer – especially when they are asking you a question – is key to appearing trustworthy and confident. Be careful not to overdo it though, as eyeballing them is unlikely to make them warm to you.
If it’s a panel job interview, it is sensible to talk directly to the person who has asked you the question, but briefly establish eye contact with the other panel members in order to show that your answer is for them as well.
Never look at the floor or ceiling while answering a question – it will make you look immediately untrustworthy.
Sit up straight
Remember your manners, and don’t sit down before the interviewer does. Likewise, if another interviewer enters the room, be sure to stand up to greet them.
Sit up straight, leaning forward slightly in your chair – this kind of body language will show that you are interested in what the interviewer has to say. Don’t lean too far forward though, or sit too close to the edge of the chair. This will make you looked hunched and nervous.
For both sexes, feet should be either crossed at the ankle or set firmly together on the floor. Moving your legs a lot, whether this is tapping your feet or jiggling at the ankle, will make you look nervous and like you would rather be somewhere else than the job interview.
For men (and indeed women), never sit with your legs spread or cross your leg or ankle on top of your knee. Body language experts say that this will make you look arrogant.
Lastly, don’t forget to smile. This is one of the primary ways of making a positive impression at a job interview, and will convey how enthusiastic you are about working for their company.