How you present at an interview is important; but equally important is your body language as it will truly reflect your state of mind and either support or kill your chances of securing the job.
When you first meet your interviewer you want show confidence: a great big smile, firm handshake and an audible “nice to meet you” whilst looking into the interviewer’s eyes. There is no better way to prepare than to practice. Stand in front of the mirror and see what you look like, it is a great way of finding out how others see you. Even better, video yourself , watch and listen to your performance. What do you think?
Apart from your appearance, body language is also translated through your voice. How do you convey your message? Do you have an audible voice? Notice your pitch and tone . Hearing this in yourself and being aware of it can help you improve your performance immensely.
Avoiding the answer by referring to what is written in your resume is possibly the worst answer. “Well, it’s all in there if you look at page 2”. This defensive answer may reveal a state of nervousness for most people, but from the point of view of the interviewer, it ignores their question, demonstrates laziness or lack of motivation from the candidate and is simply upsetting.
Finally, here are a few body language signs to avoid during your interview:
- Don’t keep your hands in your pockets.
- Never cross your arms – it makes you look defensive.
- Don’t hold your handbag/briefcase or portfolio in your lap – it makes you look like you’re ready to bolt!
- No slouching – sit up straight and tall.
- Never look away from the interviewer when answering questions or when they are talking to you – maintain eye contact.
- Fidgeting such as shaking your leg or tapping your foot or drumming your nails on the desk is annoying and distracting.
- Staring at the wall or floor – nothing screams disinterest more!
- Relax to the point of appearing blasé – leaning back in the chair in a relaxed manner more suited to the lounge at home, or resting your head on your hand with an elbow on the chair.
- Don’t rub your nose every time you make a point – some say it is a sign of deceit.
- Never lean on the desk and towards your interviewer – it invades their space.
When asked about achievements, do not shrink into yourself, blush and lower your voice; instead, own them, sit tall in your chair, explain the context of each situation with details and a clear voice.
Body language is relatively easy to control, being mindful of it can help enormously. Next time you have an interview, put your best foot forward, a strong confident voice, loads of eye contact and a professional presentation to give yourself every chance of being offered the role.