Frequently, interviewers perceive candidates who slouch as either exhausted or arrogant and judge them based on what they see. But, how much should we trust our impressions of our candidates’ body language during interviews?
We’re all naturally able to pick up on nonverbal cues. Nonverbal communication in a job interview gives the interviewer a great deal of information that is not conveyed by the spoken word alone. It reveals whether the candidate is confident, goal-oriented, and focused – or indeed, whether the candidate might actually be exhausted, unreliable, or anxious.
Consistent body language provides an opportunity to convince the interviewer of your value as a candidate; in fact, up to 93% of human correspondence is ultimately passed on through nonverbal communication. Gestures, facial expressions, posture, and the volume and tone of your voice all have the power to make or break an job offer. Just 7% of all considered is actually determined by the interview content itself.
What is body language?
Body language refers to the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate. People can say a lot without using words. All of us use physical behavior to convey messages every day. We communicate using our facial expressions, hand gestures, body posture, and touch. However, our physical behavior can be very revealing. Our bodies are constantly communicating, even when we aren’t aware of it.
It has been suggested that non-verbal communication may represent between 50 percent to 70 percent of all human correspondence. Understanding body language is important, but it is also essential to focus on different signals. In many cases, you should look at signals as a group rather than focusing on a single action.
In other words, a candidate’s nonverbal cues during an interview may not give a full picture of how they will behave in real-life circumstances. Reading non-verbals without understanding the candidate’s everyday behavior can tell you a lot about how they are feeling at any given moment, but not about their overall performance once they begin work. If you wish to understand a person’s true feelings or emotions, it’s best to study their face. While speaking, you should try to observe your candidate’s facial responses. For instance, if you were to say that a position requires hard work and the candidate look displeased before replying — whatever the reply might be — they most likely feel how they look.
What a candidate does with their hands, arms, feet, and legs can also tell you a lot about their personality. If a candidate crosses their arms during an interview, it may represent a negative attitude. Resting their ankle on their other knee is often not appropriate during a formal interview and may give further insight into their sense of professionalism — or at least situational awareness.
Here are some tips that might be helpful:
Sit up straight
If your seat has armrests, then you may be tempted to lean to the left or right. Try to avoid this by sitting up straight and keeping your back against the backrest. If you lean forward during your interview, then keep your shoulders low. Don’t make yourself too ‘big’. Also, make sure that you respect your interviewer’s personal space. Otherwise you may leave too much of an impression.
Make eye contact while speaking
Try to make eye contact with every interviewer when it’s your turn to speak. You never know whose decisions will influence your future. And be sure to show the same level of respect to every interviewer.
Keep your hands under control
It is a natural reflex to touch your nose, cheeks and lips when you are speaking. It is a common way to soothe yourself. Try to avoid this. If you touch your face too often or if you play with your hands, fingers or jewelry, then you may be perceived as insecure and / or unreliable.
Ultimately, most interviewers are not behavioral psychologists, so it may be impossible for them to truly understand every micro-expression, twitch, and movement they observe. It’s also extremely important to remember that interviews are typically high-stress scenarios in which a candidate may not offer a natural representation of themselves. Therefore, it’s crucial for an interviewer to make their feel at ease throughout the process. This will enable them to answer questions more effectively and in as natural a way as possible.