We have another guest post for you today! This time from our Careers Consultant Beka on the importance of body language in interviews – here it goes…
In a 2016 interview Kanye West predicted, “I don’t think people are going to talk in the future. They’re going to communicate through eye contact, body language, emojis, signs.”
Well the days of emoji CVs still seem to be a way off still; but Kanye has hit on something. A lot of communication is non-verbal and body language has long been accepted as an important part of communication. Nowhere is that more important than the job interview. In fact, along with the dangers of “waffling” I would say body language is one of the top concerns that students ask about in our Practice Interviews. Whether it’s the right pressure of a handshake, remembering to smile or avoiding that finger tapping habit – we all know that creating the right impression doesn’t only involve what you say, but also how you say it.
So what are the top tips for looking confident at the very moment you are probably feeling most nervous?
Research has shown that people are more likely to anticipate a positive interaction with someone if they are smiling. Of course this applies in the interview itself – but a smile and hello can go a long way with everyone from the receptionist who welcomes you and sees you out, to the other applicants in the waiting room. Savvy interviewers will look out for how you present yourself when you don’t know you’re being watched and in any case, smiling stimulates neural transmitters in your brain that make you feel positive and counteract stress and that’s something we could all do with more of at an interview!
Looking at someone suggests that you are confident and interested in what they have to say. But don’t feel you have to stare at your interviewer all the time! It’s OK to let your gaze wander as you would in natural conversation- perhaps making eye contact as you emphasise the key points you are making.
If you are being interviewed by more than one person, it’s a good idea to glance at each member of the panel in turn as you answer to draw them in to what you are saying. If you are being interviewed by Skype or video, then remember to look into the camera as this will feel like eye contact to whoever is viewing
Some people find eye contact particularly difficult, such as those on the autistic spectrum or those for whom it is culturally unfamiliar. You might want to practice keeping eye contact in less pressured situations to prepare. Or think about other strategies like using verbal cues to show you are engaged – saying “mm hmm” or ”that’s an interesting question.” Some people also find it helpful to look at the bridge of the interviewer’s nose rather than directly into their eyes.
This can be a source of worry for some. The most important thing is to remember the tips above – make eye contact and smile as you shake hands! Do not crush your interviewer’s hand but clasp it firmly for a few seconds. Make sure your hands are clean before the interview and if they get a bit sweaty then discreetly wiping them on your clothes is considerate! You could always ask a friend (or a friendly Careers Consultant!) to practice with you before the big day.
Hold your head up high
When I’m giving feedback during Practice Interviews, I often recommend that quiet speakers think about sitting up and keeping their head up rather than speaking louder, it can have the same effect. Whatever you do don’t slouch in your seat and look bored – you are aiming for relaxed but interested! While we are on the subject, don’t fidget during the interview but do use hand gestures naturally to emphasise key points you want to make.
What do you want the interviewer to remember about you?
It’s OK to show some personality in an interview too! Different roles and company cultures will value different styles so think about whether you want to come across as a friendly, open communicator? Or an ambitious, focused professional? Think about the best way to show that in the way you stand and move. You could do a google image search of the characteristic(s) you want to convey as inspiration or look at Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power poses and practice a few before you start.
And remember, if you have an interview coming up and want some feedback on your body language or the rest of your interview technique then King’s students and recent graduates can book a Practice Interview through King’s CareerConnect.