Although preparing for an interview is very important you also need to be aware of your body language during an interview. Even if you answer all the questions perfectly if you have negative body language you could jeopardise your chances at being offered the role. But what is the right body language?
When you mention "body language" to someone in advance of an interview it is usually the last thing they are thinking about and the first thing to be forgotten. Even if you know body language is important in an interview, there is a lot of conflicting advice and even over complicated advice out there which just makes it harder to apply. So I thought it would be helpful to set out what I have found as the critical elements of the right body language in an interview below:
- A Firm Handshake: A lot of people judge you on your initial handshake. Make sure it is firm and professional as this can give the impression you are strong and confident. That does not mean crush the interviewer's hand!
- Maintain Eye contact: Make sure you maintain good eye contact during the interview. There is nothing worse than someone who is looking at the floor or in a different direction from the interviewer. However, watch out you are not staring so the occasional look away and back to the interviewer will make it feel more natural and maintain your professional appearance.
- Excessive Movement: Make sure you are not tapping your feet, clicking a pen or swaying in your chair throughout the interview. This can be very distracting and will detract from your answers and the other great things you do in the interview.
- Professional Posture: Ensure you are not slouching as this can project the image you are lazy and you are not interested in the role or what the interviewer has to say. Be careful to sit professionally at all times and not to be too informal.
- Clothing: Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the interview. No bright colours just formal business dress. Also, take into consideration your industry, for example if you are going to be serving food ensure your nails are clean, no nail polish and if you have long hair then ensure this is tied back.
- Clearing your throat: Some people can do this when they are nervous so try to be conscious of this. You are better to have some water handy and take sips of this instead.
- Hand Movements: When explaining yourself it is easy and often helpful to use hand gestures to convey your point so do not abandon hand gestures completely as they can be used effectively. However, be careful not to have excessive use of hand gestures as it can be distracting and detract from your answers.
That may feel like a lot but you can read more articles and whole books about what is appropriate body language which will give you great advice in addition or in more detail to what I have set out above. However, in my experience if you get these right and you get on well with the interviewer, you are professional, and answer the questions well then you stand a good chance.