How Important is Body Language in an Interview?
Sophisticated interview techniques have been developed to try to overcome individual biases, to make the process fairer and to allow for nerves amongst candidates. However, body language is still important because it can give away unconscious clues to how you are feeling which might contradict what you are saying.
In research carried out by Albert Mehrabian and reported in his book “Silent Messages” (1981) on communication of feelings and attitudes between people, the spoken words themselves accounted for just 7% of the impact. Vocal characteristics (loudness, tempo, inflection) accounted for 38% and body language (posture, eye contact, facial expression etc.) accounted for 55%.
Body language plays an important part in how we communicate our feelings to others, and is a vital ingredient of creating the right first impression. People form an opinion of you regardless of whether you actively try to create an impression.
Body language is so important because it can often contradict what we say in words. For example you might be demonstrating a time when you displayed confidence but telling the story while looking down at your hands and avoiding eye contact! Because body language is more spontaneous and less controlled it usually shows our true feelings and attitudes.
Body language tips to remember:
- Arrive early for the interview to give yourself time to relax and compose yourself.
- If you are nervous try to relax your breathing.
- Enter the room confidently, no hesitation, no peeking in!
- Smile and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.
- Maintain a comfortable distance from the interviewer.
- Try to sit so that you can face all the interviewers (if there are more than one).
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Demonstrate enthusiasm by leaning forward when appropriate and using expressive gestures.
- Try to keep the tone of your voice relaxed, avoid “ums” “errs” and other nervous mannerisms.
- Try to vary the tone of your voice particularly if you think you can sound monotone.
- Think about your posture and gestures, and try to sit upright and confidently.
- Look for the body language of your interviewer too. Look for signs like nodding to encourage you to continue talking, leaning forward which shows they are interested in what you say or folded arms, finger drumming or looking away which might signal the interviewer has lost his/her attention.
Communicating the right nonverbal signs can help you to convey an enthusiastic, positive and confident attitude during job interviews.