How Your Body Language Can Influence A Job Interview

Well done, you’ve got a job interview! The application was a time consuming process in itself, but now you need to prepare.

This can be a strenuous exercise. You need to do your homework: read up on the organisation, practice for those tricky questions and really know how to sell yourself. But, in addition to all of this preparation, you also need to consider what your body language is telling your interviewer(s).

Research has repeatedly suggested that an individual’s body language, and other non-verbal communication such as eye contact, conveys more than what they are actually saying. This, of course, is something that most people should be considering when preparing for any form of interview, meeting or presentation.

In essence, it is not just about what you say but how you say it. What is your tone, modulation and physical body language saying to those on the other side of the interview table? There is no ‘one size fits all’ technique that is appropriate for everyone, but here are my do’s and don’ts for attending a job interview.

Do’s in a job interview:

  • Stand in reception

If attending in person, arrive early, and try to avoid the temptation of sitting down hunched over your mobile. Sitting in this way will dissipate your energy levels and be picked up by your interviewer when they greet you

  • Breathe!

It is entirely natural to experience some degree of nerves or ‘butterflies’ in the stomach. When you are experiencing this in fact your body is undergoing a chemical reaction instigated in the brain; the stress hormone cortisol is released and the best way of counteracting this is to breathe.

Breathing in through the nose or mouth and exhaling slowly will help alleviate your nerves. So, try breathing in for a count of three and exhale for a count of four beats (over time, you can extend the number of beats). Just remember, your out-breath should be longer than your in-breath. Repeat three times

  • Positive body language

Again if attending in person, this important area is something to be aware of throughout the interview process. The way that you enter the room, approach the interview panel and shake their hand(s) will all be ‘read’ by the panel. All this, before you have even said a word!

If you are sitting, try to adopt an upright position with your lower back/bottom placed in the base of the chair. Space your feet evenly apart. Feel free to use your hands to emphasise any points you make.

I am not an advocate of ‘mirroring’. This is a technique of matching or mirroring your interviewer’s movements. This can come across as obvious, clumsy and stage managed. However, leaning slightly forward is a great way to show you are engaged and can be read as a good indicator of your enthusiasm. By contrast, leaning too far back during any interaction could convey a lack of interest

Don’ts in a job interview:

  • Not making eye contact

It is important to match the person you are speaking to though good eye contact. Generally speaking, maintaining this will give others confidence in you and what you are saying. In order that you don’t feel you are staring at anyone, you can move your eye-line slightly but try to always bring your focus back to the person you are addressing

  • Beware of your hands and arms

It can be challenging to know what to do with your hands and arms. However, try to avoid crossing your arms in what is already a potentially nerve-wracking situation as this can be read as defensive or negative body language. Do not have your hands in pockets or clasped tightly in front of or behind you

  • Bounce around like Tigger!

Nerves can affect your body in interesting ways. If you are sitting, try not to shuffle your feet. If you are standing, try not to attempt any dance or interesting foot movements. Adopt standing in ‘neutral’; this balanced posture – with feet equally spaced shoulder width apart – is a strong, confident way of standing

If you need coaching to prepare for any forthcoming interview, please contact Eaglei.