It’s generally accepted that communication is only 7% what you say, and 93% non-verbal, so in an interview, where you’re trying to make as good an impression as possible in a relatively short time, it’s key to examine your body language.
Most candidates are focused on preparing what they’re going to say and what answers to give, without examining their poise, what’s appropriate for an interview and how to improve it to project their best self to the interview. Below we’ve examined a few ways to make sure your non-verbal communication is backing up your great answers, making the best impression you can.
Interviewing is stressful and consumes a lot of mental energy, and candidates are usually so focused on answering the questions well that they forget to do the most obvious thing to make a good impression-smile! Interviewing is about selling yourself and your skills, and sales is all about getting the potential customer to like you.
Smiling at someone has been proven as one of the most effective ways of making yourself likeable, while also coming across as friendly, open and often most importantly, relaxed – it’s difficult to look stressed and overprepared with a genuine smile on your face.
Companies also want someone who is excited about joining the company, and what better way to look enthused than smiling – the best way to get used to this is to practice answering interview questions and being aware of your expression; use a mirror or friend if you need.
Uncross your arms
Look at it from the interviewers’ point of view – having a conversation with someone whose arms are crossed makes them look defensive, uninterested and uncomfortable in the situation. A strong interviewee looks like he wants to be there, and is totally engaged in the meeting.
What to do with your hands is often a challenge in more formal or stressful situations, so if there’s a desk or boardroom table rest them there, otherwise fold them in your lap. In most discourse, you’ll use your hands for effect anyway, and speech looks more natural with some hand signals-but don’t overdo it.
Watch your posture and pose
Sit upright in your chair, with your lower back against the rear. Slouching into the back can make the candidate seem uninterested while perching right on the edge of the seat can come across to the interviewer as anxious or overly nervous.
Keeping your feet right on the ground (or even crossed at the ankles) will display confidence, and also prevent you tapping your feet up and down or otherwise fidgeting, which will undermine all the great things you have to say.
Be careful with what you wear
You can read all day about the psychology behind what outfits, colours and styles make the best impression at interview, but it’s key to know what works for you specifically in terms of looking comfortable and not fidgeting. Make sure your chosen outfit (especially the shirt or jacket) fits well and allows you to move-it’s very obvious when a candidate doesn’t feel at their best and their movements and hand gestures are stilted.
Keep jewellery, tassels, and other distracting accessories to a minimum, as you’re more likely to play with them when nervous or under pressure. For ladies, try to pin or tie your hair back of your face; on top of looking a little unprofessional, twirling it or pushing it behind your ear will take away from what you have to say.
A candidate, sitting calmly in front of a panel of interviewers is very powerful and will imply lots of confidence, even before any questions are asked.
Be aware of your entrance and exit
Even walking into the interview room, or alongside the receptionist to the meeting room can make an impression. Walking upright, with purpose and with your shoulders drawn back displays a candidate who is comfortable dealing with new people in a stressful situation-exactly the sort of environment that many people will deal with in work every day.
On top of practising your answers and knowledge of the role and company, examining how you naturally sit and present yourself and then making some adjustments is a good idea. The words you’re saying are only part of the equation, and a discerning hiring manager will be impressed by a candidate exuding confidence and calm under pressure.
About the Author
Eleanor Mc Shortall recruits in the area of Big Data and across the industry of IT and Telecom. She is a senior recruiter who finds people jobs from Graduate to Director level. Get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org