Why is body language important in an interview?
18th Aug 2017
Body language can often be overlooked by candidates who solely focus on the verbal answers they have prepared. You should demonstrate consistent messages with your body language which correlate with verbal answers. It can be easy to forget that your visual presence will also leave an impression on the interviewer.
Maintaining great body language for a long period of time can sometimes be harder than it seems. Be sure to write down the following tips to ensure you’ve prepared your nonverbal communication for your next interview.
What does body language mean?
Your body language includes your posture, gestures and mannerisms which are translated to the hiring manager visually. A hiring manager will be paying close attention to your non-verbal communication as it often gives away tells on how engaged you are in the process; how truthful your answer is and how self-aware you are. Ensure you give yourself the best chance of succeeding in an interview by preparing good body language.
The first body language you’ll need to master
A handshake is the first non-verbal signal you’ll present, this should be accompanied with a smile and eye contact. Introducing yourself with a hand-shake is a professional introduction which can often be an unspoken gauge of character. Are you outgoing and proactive or are you nervous and reserved?
Often this first-hand shake will be the first thing you’re judged on, in the first 7 seconds of meeting someone. You won’t necessarily destroy your chances of landing the job with a poor handshake, but it is often a good start to creating a great first impression. Grip the hiring managers hand firmly, usually, two shakes are considered an average handshake length.
It’s important to pay attention to your body language if you’re nervous, it’s common for people to react with a shaky knee, fidgeting, lots of movement or avoiding eye contact.
Try to keep this under control as a hiring manager may find it distracting or annoying. If you’re familiar with your nervous mannerisms, it’s time to practice interview prep, prepare not only your verbal answers but your body language. This will allow you to rehearse and feel more comfortable when you're in the interview.
What is positive body language?
Positive body language will help you look interested and engaged in your interview. Examples of positive body language are: leaning forward, eye contact, nodding and smiling when appropriate or showing your enthusiasm for a point or topic.
What is the right amount of eye contact?
Often body language which is forgotten during an interview, is eye contact. A lack of eye contact can present a range of conclusions, you’re dishonest, unprepared or shy. The skill of maintaining eye contact comfortably during an interview can often give you a competitive advantage among other candidates. Think about other professionals in your field, is this a skill that most of them use or are you giving yourself a competitive edge by having personable skills?
If there are a number of hiring managers interviewing you, shift your eye contact to each interviewer, a couple of seconds per person should be suitable when you’re talking. Try to maintain the correct amount of eye contact, listen to the recruiter and try to understand when the social cues switch the conversation topic, or when it could be acceptable to look away from the interviewer.
People enjoy positive body language and will often reflect it unconsciously. Such as smiling, when you naturally smile in an interview it is often reflected by the hiring manager. When it’s an appropriate time to smile as something is funny or interesting has been spoken about, do so if it feels natural. If you fake your smile or over force your facial expressions, it can be often easy to see through fake body language especially in a concentrated setting such as an interview.
Hiring managers have been through hundreds if not thousands of interviews and should quickly be able to tell when you’re not acting in an honest or genuine manner. Ensure your hands are kept by your side or kept on your lap, it can be distracting when you’re constantly moving them. Try to avoid crossing your arms, this is defensive body language, however, try to nod your head when you agree with something. This can often be hard in an interview when you’re not used to maintaining this posture and especially when you’re trying to answer questions at the same time. Body language is something which can be practiced so ensure you are aware of your bad body language habits while under pressure.
In conclusion, don’t overlook body language as something you shouldn’t practice before your interview. Nonverbal communication can be extremely important for psychological reasons, so it shouldn’t be forgotten. Use this opportunity to leverage your body language to your advantage and create a strong, confident persona. It will improve your self-awareness and may even improve your confidence for the job interview.
If you’re a job seeker ready for your next opportunity or need some career advice, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 028 9091 8529.