You have won half of the battle and earnt yourself an interview, and you straight away begin listing your best and necessary qualities and skills. However, your well-rehearsed answers are not the only important thing to consider in your interview preparation.
Appearance also counts for a lot - from dressing appropriately, to using open and confident body language. Here is a look at what your bad and good body language will tell an interviewer (albeit subconsciously) about you, and how to crack positive body language:
An interview almost always begins with a handshake, and will be your interviewer’s first impression. Your handshake is likely to be the only moment of physical contact you have with the interviewer, so a firm, confident shake is likely to make you more memorable.
A hand grip that is perceived as too light can send a message that you’re not assertive enough and not confident in yourself. A study from the Journal of Hand Therapy revealed that compared to people aged 20-23 in 1985, individuals who are 20-34 today generally have a significantly weaker grip and pinch strength.
A weak person will often take the bottom part of the handshake, exposing their wrist in what is considered a physically weaker position. To be dominant in a handshake, and demonstrate an alpha personality, place your hand on top of the clasp.
If you don’t want to come across as arrogant, simply go in straight and firmly shake up and down for a mutual handshake, and remember to look them in the eye and smile briefly.
It is important to sit up straight during your interview, as it is seen as a sign of intelligence, confidence, and credibility. Experts say to sit tall as if string is connecting your head to the ceiling.
Lounging on your chair can make you appear disinterested, and slumping forward with shoulders hunched can make you appear weak and lacking in confidence.
Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, to stop yourself looking guarded and defensive, and lean forward slightly when you want to indicate interest. Communications expert Karen Friedman, says: “Arms crossed signal defensiveness and resistance. When they’re open at your sides you appear more approachable.”
If you are feeling brave, mimic a high power position usually adopted by super confident people, and put your hands behind your back, grasping a wrist with the other hand.
Do you usually speak with your hands playing a huge part, and worry that you need to play it down during an interview? As long as you are not pointing and flinging your arms in their faces, continuing as normal will feel more natural and will show what you feel passionate about.
To demonstrate confidence, you may choose to adopt a ‘steepling’ gesture with your hands, where you bring your hands towards your chest and press the tops of the fingers together. It will remind you not to gesture too often, and make you look assertive and professional.
Your Eye Contact
Author Heidi Grant Halvorson in her book No One Understands You And What To Do About It, explains that maintaining eye contact is an effective way to convey that you’re trustworthy, as the very first thing people will try to decide about you when they meet you is whether they can trust you.
This doesn’t mean staring at your interviewer until your eyes water and they feel deeply intimidated, but it means maintaining regular yet not persistent eye contact to show interest and honesty. Think about how you usually make eye contact when chatting with a friend, and go from there.
Social psychologist Dr Nancy Henley found that women smile in 87% of social encounters, while men only smile 67% of the time. A blank expression could make you appear unapproachable or uninterested, yet giving yourself face ache from over-smiling could make you look fake.
So where do you draw the line? The key is to start and end all conversations with a smile, and smile when necessary throughout the conversation. Smiling is contagious, and will immediately create a positive environment, leaving a lasting impression on your interview.
Add an agreeable nod in with your smile every so often, when the interviewer is dominating the conversation, to express that you understand what they are saying, and are listening fully.
Ensure that your body language not only affects other people’s perception of you, but also changes your own feelings of self-assurance and power.
Interviews are a daunting experience, and it is best to go in there feeling as powerful as possible by enforcing these techniques before you even enter the room. It is now time to showcase the best ‘you’ with confidence.