Mind your body language!

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it…” At least that’s what they say. Whoever ‘they’ may be, they do seem to have a point – because there’s no point in having all the right answers if your body language is screaming ‘stay away’ to a prospective employer.

Let’s look at a few ‘do’s and don’ts’ to help you think about the impression you create during an interview without saying a word…

Do…

  • Get the personal grooming right before you go in there.  A moment in front of the mirror can save you from frantic tie twiddling at the start of the interview… or sucking at your teeth to remove that mythical buit of spinach.
  • Shake hands firmly but not too firmly. Yes, that old chestnut! Find a compromise between the infamous dead fish and the equally feared grip of death.
  • Use your hands to communicate – but avoid pointing or other gestures which can look aggressive.
  • Lean forward to make a point – it conveys a sense of agreement and sharing. But don’t keep it up for the whole interview!
  • Show energy and a sense of humour – being positive is infectious and a bright, engaged manner shows your enthusiasm for the job.
  • Address each interviewer with your gaze if there’s more than one in the room. This makes everyone feel equally important, even if it’s just from time to time. Don’t switch gaze too often, or you’ll look like you’re a spectator at Wimbledon!
  • Match the expression to the subject matter! No point in grinning manically while discussing serious challenges to the business, or looking like Jack Dee on an off day as you describe your boundless enthusiasm for the role!

Don’t…

  • Fold your arms during the interview. It’s supposed to convey a defensive attitude – and even if you think this is bull, the interviewer might believe it!
  • Fidget, even though you’re bound to be nervous. Gestures such as touching your face, finger drumming, rubbing the back of your head or picking your nails can make you look disinterested or lacking in focus. More to the point, they can distract the interviewer from what you’re saying
  • Lean back too far – it can make you look as if you’re naturally gravitating towards the door and your means of escape!
  • Stare blankly at the interviewer. Maintaining eye contact is a positive, but know when to relax it, or you run the risk of looking creepy!
  • Fall victim to ‘nodding dog’ syndrome. It’s great to nod from time to time when an important point is being made, but don’t overdo it – unless you’re applying for the position of retro car window novelty item impersonator.
  • Blow it all at the end… premature victory dances or audible ‘yee-hahs’ have been known to cost an otherwise successful candidate the job. Similarly, don’t murmur ‘eejit’ in the corridor when the interviewer’s closest colleague is within earshot. Get out of the building at least before you let go!

Now watch a video….

By its nature, body language isn’t verbal, so it makes sense to do a bit of visual learning! This video from the daily telegraph is worth a look…

A final point to bear in mind…

The key to sending out positive signals through body language is keeping your nerves under control and being yourself. And of course, you will do all of this far more naturally if you, yourself, believe you’re right for the role.  Which means preparing, practicing and thinking about what you’re going to say – in other words, get the whole approach right and the body language will largely take care of itself.

If you believe you can do it, then you can do it!