Before you have even uttered your first greeting, your job interviewer has formed an opinion of you. As you casually stroll across the room from the door making your way to the awaiting interview chair, your interviewer has sized you up according to your non-verbal body language.
First impressions last, so be conscious of how you look to others. Try to think how what you do before, during and as your job interview ends will influence their opinion of you. According to UCLA professor and researcher Albert Mehrabian, 55% of messages processed by the brain are based on a person’s body language. This means that you are being judged even before you have opened your mouth to speak.
Could your body language be the deciding factor between your interviewer choosing you over someone else with matching skills that would be an equally good fit for the job?
Many prospective employees, if they have done their homework well, will have prepared for their interview thoroughly. They would have tailored their resume and cover letter to suit the requirements of the job. They would have diligently studied the history of the company. They would have prepared some answers for the most common interview questions that are asked. They would have dressed smartly and coiffed their hair into a neat non-fussy style. But here is where a lot of prospective candidates let themselves down – they fail to recognize the non-verbal signals they are sending.
Even the most keen candidate who has brushed up for their interview will have a habit of rushing into their interview in an effort to start parading their carefully prepared answers. They forget to enter the room with a good posture. They forget to walk across the room with their head held high. They forget to smile and make good eye contact. They forget to offer their handshake to the interviewer. They forget that the interview had actually started from the moment they stepped through the door. Instead they were too focussed on preparing to deliver their presentation once they were in the hot-seat.
If it came down to a choice between you and another candidate, how would you feel knowing that you had lost out on that job simply because the other guy had presented himself in a more engaging way at interview? Would it bother you knowing that you had failed simply because you forgot to smile or didn’t shake hands with the interviewer? I think it would bother you greatly!
During the interview you should try to pace yourself and deliberately slow down your speech a little. Because you will already be a bit anxious, it is quite normal to speak at a faster pace than you normally do. Try to focus on pronouncing your words properly in a more measured way. This will help keep your nerves under control and will also mean your interviewer will clearly hear every word you say in reply their questions. There is nothing worse during interview than your interviewer having to ask you to repeat yourself because they didn’t quite catch your answer.
Hold your posture during interview
As a child I am sure you were told endlessly by your parents or teachers to stop slouching. Slouching is not only bad for your posture but it will also give off a negative vibe during your interview. Slouching screams out, “I don’t care” and your interviewer will quickly pick up on this. If you need to work on your sitting attitude, then practice at home. Sit in front of a mirror and see for yourself how slouching comes across. Practice sitting up straight and get a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you while you properly. Notice how you feel when giving your responses to their questions while sitting up attentively. Keep checking yourself every now and then. If you find yourself starting to slouch, subtly straighten back up again.
Maintain good eye contact
Always look your interviewer in the eye while they are talking with you, but never in an intimidating way. A good rule of thumb is at least 70% good eye contact. Smile and nod gently to show your understanding of their questioning. You can look away to compose your answer, but never stare nervously at the floor when giving your answer – always deliver your response while looking them in the eye. Try to avoid nervously darting your eyes around the room. This gives off the impression that you may be hiding something or are not entirely confident about being there. If you feel a little flustered, then you could look down at your note pad or take some notes to re-focus your mind.
Squash the squirming
Humans are very rarely still by nature. We are always moving in subtle little ways. We gesticulate with our hands while we talk, we move our heads around and shift position in our seats or while standing. It is fine to gesture with your hands during interview, but try to refrain from causing a hurricane! Keep the fidgeting to a minimum and if you have a habit of playing with a pen, cracking your knuckles, or twisting a piece of hair, then try to hold out until the interview is over and you have left the building. There is nothing more distracting for an interviewer than your squirming and it may distract them from your answers, which will not bode well for the decision making.
You have only got to hold it all together for a short while – and remember the most important aspect of your body language – remember to smile!