It’s important to be able to answer those big interview questions well on your journey to securing your ideal job, and so is presenting yourself professionally to employers when face to face.
There are plenty of sources online advising you on what to wear, how you should style your hair and tying it all together neatly when the big day finally comes, but what do we do with ourselves during our interview? What might be the barrier between us and this dream role?
Body language is a key component to how we can influence others’ perceptions of us. If we are slouching and making little to no eye contact, our interviewer might think we aren’t that interested in the vacancy at hand. But if we sit up straight, surround ourselves with an air of confidence and make engaging eye contact, we’re sure to have our name written at the top of the call back list!
When someone says body language, we often think about posture, facial expressions, and eye contact. These three things are all very important in a job interview. To help use your body language to your advantage, we’ll look at these aspects of body language in more detail.
Eye contact is a very powerful tool, and it serves well in interview type situations. By making eye contact you convey confidence, interest in the role at hand, and respect to your interviewer. Getting the balance of eye contact can be tricky as you’ll want to avoid staring straight at your interviewer without breaking your gaze, while also making sure you don’t look away too frequently. This is common when thinking of how to answer interview questions in the moment. The best way to tackle this is by coming with a range of possible answers to questions in advance and quickly mentally selecting which answer you think best fits the question. This way you can focus on showing your interviewer that you are engaged in the discussion without looking away for too long or staring them down.
Posture can tell you a lot about how someone is feeling and how they compose themselves as an individual. The usual advice given to candidates is to make sure they have proper erect posture to ooze confidence and create a big presence. However, it’s important to make sure you don’t look irregular and force yourself into stiff, unnatural postures. Focus on straightening your posture, putting your shoulders back while remaining relaxed to some degree. If you’re sitting at a table, consider placing your hands in a relaxed position in front of you, or if you are sitting in a chair, gently place them in your lap. Many people find it more comfortable to speak using their hands to animate what they’re saying, and if you are one of these people, this is also a useful tool to show your investment in the interview. Avoid suppressing this natural desire as you may end up looking uncomfortable and unnatural when responding to your interviewer.
In addition to these things, make sure you face the interviewer, small things like having your feet pointed towards them or framing your shoulders straight on will help you to appear more engaged and interested in the interview without pushing yourself into unnatural postures.
Facial expressions are key in all aspects of life. With regards to interviews, this is another very important thing to remember. Typically, when having a conversation of any kind, we watch the other person’s facial expressions for cues on what to ask next, their opinions or internal thoughts on a specific subject, directly before they offer their answer. This is the same in an interview. Much like how you will be reading the interviewer’s face to determine what they thought of your response, they’ll be looking at yours to make notes on how you answer questions and deal with responsibilities under pressure. You may find it useful to present with an intrigued and engaged facial expression when listening to questions and remain thoughtful while you think about your response. Avoid pulling dramatic facial expressions to convey your disapproval, this is where you should rely on careful wording and phrasing. If you find a questions difficult to respond to or aren’t quite sure what is being expected from you then you might want to consider taking a moment and ask the interviewer to clarify the question or request that you come back to the question towards the end of the interview.
Each component of body language is as important as the other and should be used effectively in combination. Try to remember it as you walk into your interview, the first place the interviewer will look is your face, so remember to have a welcoming expression with eagerness to get started. When walking in, avoid slouching and try walking in with straight posture and an air of confidence. When sitting down to begin your interview, place your hands in your lap or rest them on the table in front of you. You can easily show your engagement by ensuring you are facing your interviewer with squared off shoulders and feet positioned towards them.
If you find these things particularly difficult to remember on top of undertaking your interview, try practicing at home with a friend or family member and ask for feedback on how well you composed yourself and areas they think require some improvement.
Following these steps should help you to feel more confident and comfortable in an interview and dazzle interviewers with your confidence and composure!
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