Body-language: how you can speak without using words
Body language is the prime indicator of what type of person you are, whether you realise it or not. A powerful tool in an interview is increasing your awareness of what your body language says about you and recognising the body language of others.There are some obvious points on body language that are universally recognised.
- Sit upright in your chair, slouching or leaning back is too informal and my be deemed as disrespectful
- Maintain good eye contact and notice when an interviewer is reacting favourably to you
- Don’t over gesticulate- a little gesturing can help express yourself but too much may be distracting
- Crossing your arms across your chest is often seen as a defensive gesture and may portray you as not being an open person
- If you are walking around a farm or site, it is important to try and to walk at the same pace of those interviewing you, as moving ahead can be construed as being impatient and lagging behind can be seen as demonstrating apathy and a lack of eagerness
Some body language pointers
- Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor, lean slightly forward if anything, this can indicate attentiveness towards your interviewer
- Don’t play with your hands or fiddle with your hair, this can be distracting and show nerves and lack of confidence.
- Try not to create defensive barriers between you and the interviewer such as crossed arms, legs or a bag on your lap, you want to look open and honest
- Maintain eye contact but don’t stare so that it is uncomfortable. Remember if there are more then two interviewers to shift your glance between both of them
- Nodding and making Mm’ing noises will show you are listening
- Try to be natural and try to relax, nerves may make you defensive
Some tips for noticing your own body language
- Body posture: this should be interested and relaxed, sit up straight with your back against your chair; this will prevent you from sitting on the edge of your chair and appearing tense or nervous. When asked a question by an interviewer, turn shoulders towards them, lean forward slightly and tilt you head slightly. The copycat technique is said to be the most effective technique of reading body language. If you adopt the same position as the interviewer, this shows positive body language. Even better, if the interviewer adopts the same position as you, this is regarded as positive.
- Hands: hands can be difficult to place in an interview and can indicate feelings without meaning too. Clenched hands can indicate that you are nervous and can appear defensive. You can use hand gestures to your advantage, to demonstrate a point. However, do not use them too much at the start as they can distract from what you are saying. Add them slowly throughout the interview as you gain more confidence.
- Dynamic movements: Dynamic movements can support what you are saying or give a positive view of you in an interview. For example, nodding you head can support words, questions and initiate more conversation by appearing agreeable. It is important to take your cues from the interviewer, if the interviewer uses hands then you use your hands, but if they keep their hands to themselves then it is best to keep your hand movements to a minimum.
- Nervous gestures or habits: these need to be minimised or got rid of before an interview, tapping feet, clicking of a pen, fidgeting with hair do not portray positive body signals to your potential employer.
Your body language can indicate a lot about you without you being conscious of it. Observe how you sit, gesture and converse with others in everyday situations and then you may be able to recognise what signals you are sending out to potential employers.
Observe others and see if you can read into what they are feeling from their body language. This is a good exercise as it gives you a different perspective on yourself and others.
Don’t overly worry about appearing too nervous, most employers appreciate that interviews can be daunting experiences. Concentrate on appearing alert, open and attentive. This will boost your chance of making a good impression on an employer.