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5 Body language techniques to conquer a job interview

4 min, 45 sec read
12:15 PM | 30 October 2015
by Philippa Smithers
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So you’ve got yourself an interview. You’ve done your research and know the company's story like the back of your hand. You’ve got an answer prepared for any question they could possibly fire at you; from where you see yourself in five years, to what animal you’d be and why.

Answers are key in an interview - it’s vital to talk the talk. But what about walking the walk? Non-verbal communication and body language often get left by the wayside when it comes to preparation and delivery. However, what’s going on under the surface plays just as an important role. Up to 75% of communication is non-verbal.

With that in mind, here are 5 techniques to help you conquer the job interview:

Appearance

It’s bad to judge a book by its cover, I know. And in most cases it’s what’s inside that counts. But in an interview situation you have a very limited amount of time to impress - generally people will make a judgement about you after only ten seconds, so make it count! 

"People will make a judgement about you after only ten seconds, so make it count!"

Dress appropriately for the role you are going for. This might take a bit of investigating, but it will be worth it. Rocking up to a relaxed creative company in a full blown suit may not go down too well. If you don’t already know someone in the company to ask, check out their social media pages to get a peek of what their office life seems to be like.

When you have arrived, think about how you present yourself while you wait for your interview. First rule; never be on your phone. It looks like being there is not your top priority. Instead, have a look at their magazines, or chat to the receptionist. Anything that shows you’re already getting involved and interacting positively with the company.

The handshake

So you’re winning over the receptionist with your witty small talk, when your interviewer arrives. In order for a good start, you want this to go as smoothly as possible. You're likely going to be shaking with your right hand, so be prepared by arranging your belongings on your left side to avoid any potential confusion. 

"A firm but short handshake is the most popular to receive - no lingering or limp hands."

A firm but short handshake is the most popular to receive - no lingering or limp hands. Another thing to consider is leading with your palm up. This shows openness, and is a subliminal sign that you are giving the interviewer status.

Sitting down

Now it’s crunch time. It’s an uncomfortable situation to be in, getting openly judged and critiqued, but you have to sit there and look relaxed.

The best way to sit is straight up, all the way at the back of the chair with both feet on the floor. Not only does this make you look self-assured, but also studies have shown that it is harder to jump between creative thought and complex rational thought when both feet are not flat on the ground. 

Lean forwards when you’re asked a question. This will make you look engaged and interested in the conversation. Similarly, make sure you reflect your interest with your expressions too. Interviewers are much more likely to warm to you if you look enthusiastic and happy, so smile! (Not Cheshire cat style, but enough to show you’re animated and friendly).

"Make sure you reflect your interest with your expressions too."

Try to avoid fidgeting as this makes you look nervous. If you find it hard not to fidget, or feel more comfortable holding onto something to stay focused, use a pen. You can take notes and look super studious. Lastly, avoid crossing your arms. This may seem like a good way to combat fidgeting, but it can come across as defensive and closed.

Eye contact

This is probably one of the most important things to make sure to do. Being able to maintain eye contact shows confidence and a level of trust. Obviously don’t stare down the interviewer like a cowboy in a western stand-off, but try and hold their gaze for longer than you normally would. 

Look at different parts of their face; swapping between eyes, nose, and lips, rather than drilling into their eyes. If there's more than one person on the panel, make sure you spend equal amounts on everyone, especially when you are answering a question, in order that they all feel included.

Your voice

Keep a calm head, take a drink of water if you need it, and pause to think before you start answering the question. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than listening to someone, and hearing the dryness of their throat, and the wavering of their voice as they scramble through sentences. If you (like many people) get a shaky voice when nervous, try this technique; breathe deeply and speak on the exhale. This will help to calm the tone of your voice.

"Try this technique; breathe deeply and speak on the exhale."

It can be strange when all the attention is on you, but try to take it in your stride, and speak to them as if they were a family member. After all, they are human, and will sympathise that it can be a nerve-racking situation.

The interview has finished, you’ve shaken hands again, and said goodbye to your new friend the receptionist on your way out. Remember that follow up email, and jobs a good’un!



For more interview advice you can download our free careers guide.

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