Imagine having a conversation with someone who:
- Fidgets the entire time.
- Won’t make eye contact.
- Mumbles a lot.
- Slouches and looks bored.
That conversation will end quickly, even if the subject matter is interesting. You would think the person is rude, disinterested or uncomfortable with you.
It’s the same set of rules during a job interview. You may have perfect grammar and diction, but if you are not fluent in body language, then your communication skills will fall short. Even though you’ve given all the right answers at an interview or checked all boxes with your qualifications, if you have an unprofessional vibe, you’re not getting an offer anytime soon.
Why are non-verbal communicative gestures so important? Your physical behaviour, your personal energy and your overall demeanour are louder than your words. The way you move your hands, make facial expressions and how you sit in an interview speaks volumes about who you are as a person. They are all reflective of your personality and tell the interviewer exactly the type of hire you are.
What is body language?
Your mannerisms, confidence, posture, eye contact and gestures make up your own unique body language. It is a non-verbal expression of your personality that leaves a lasting impression on others. We don’t realise it. But we are often analysing or judging other people based on their body language.
Someone who walks with a straight back, chin up and takes big, sharp strides is seen as a forceful, strong person.
Someone else who is standing next to a wall, sheepishly hiding from the crowd and blending in with the furniture is seen as timid, shy and insecure.
And a person who uses professional body language in interviews is most likely to get a callback.
It’s a science that is based on instinct. All you have to do is beware of your physical behaviour and make suitable modifications.
6 key aspects of body language you can work on.
There is an art to making eye contact. Use it too much without blinking and people will think you’re a psychopath with a knife in your pocket.
Use it too little, and you’ll appear as though you are shy, embarrassed or hiding something.
Your body language in interviews depends on how much eye contact you make.
So what is the right amount?
When someone is speaking, you make eye contact to show you’re paying attention. When you are talking, you look at the people in the room (if there is more than one) to ensure enough eye contact with everyone. It’s okay to look away from time to time. It also looks to look down at your resume, notes or reports if needed.
Please blink, though. It’s creepy otherwise.
Did this happen to you in school? You had to sit straight. Legs joined together. No slouching. Who knew our science teacher was training us on how to sit in job interviews? How you appear in your seat is important. Your back should be aligned against the back of the chair. You can lean a little towards the interview to show you are paying attention. Don’t cross your arms and keep your palms open. Your shoulders must be down, and your chin is parallel to the floor. When required, you can move forward or gesture with your hands. When you finish your point, return to your base position. It’s not complicated, but if you’re a sloucher or a sloppy sitter, you may want to practice before the interview. A strong, disciplined posture is part of your body language and leaves a lasting impression of professionalism on the recruiter.
Also Read – 8 pointers that get your Resume shortlisted
Moving your arms about like you are redirecting traffic can make your recruiter run in the opposite direction. Wild hand gestures are a definite no-no. We often don’t realise how loud our body language can be. So reign it in. Use softer, less pronounced gestures when making a point. Stay within your physical zone, and don’t let your fingertips intrude on the interviewer’s space. Also, clenched fists or biting nails indicate nervousness and low confidence. It also suggests you may not be right for this job. You can watch youtube videos to learn the correct etiquette for hand movements. Practice them in front of the mirror on others till it starts feeling natural to you. It’s an important part of how to sit in interviews, so perfect your gestures.
Here is a checklist for you:
Hair — should be neatly combed, not unruly or falling into your eyes.
Clothes — should be clean, ironed and business casual. No ripped jeans, shorts or frayed t-shirts, please.
Accessories — keep to a bare minimum. Minimalist jewellery or a sober watch is fine.
What you wear reflects how serious you are about the job. Your clothes also impact your body language. You are most likely to appear professional if you look professional.
Your speech and language
Very often, you might have an interview with someone from another generation. Calling them ‘bro’ or ‘dude’ isn’t going to win you any favours. Too much lang will make you appear too casual.
Another factor that could affect your body language is the use of fillers. When you can’t articulate or make your point efficiently, you say, ‘um’, ‘er’ or ‘you know’ a lot.
This reflects your state of mind and that you can’t express yourself clearly. Again, you need to practice. Take the time to gather your thoughts before you talk. Learn to speak slowly and clearly. People who speak too fast or mumble their words won’t make it through the next round. So work on your speech as it plays a big role in perfecting body language in interviews.
Also Read – Importance of Body Language in Day to Day Life
Nervous tics and expressions
Repeated cracking of the knuckles, tapping of the feet, shifty eyes and crossed eyebrows are all signs of poor body language in interviews. Sometimes, we don’t even realise we are doing it. It’s how we manifest our anxiety or hesitance. It also tells the recruiter a lot about you. That you lack confidence and self-assurance.
Before your interview takes place, you need to learn how to calm down. Many breathing exercises help to calm yourself and balance your emotions. Slow breathing and long exhaling are quite effective at lowering stress. Also, think only positive thoughts before you enter the meeting room. We tend to scare ourselves with negative thoughts.
How you can develop professional body language
Practice in the mirror
It may seem silly at first. Stand in front of a mirror and check your body language. Think of it like rehearsing for an audition. All of the great actors do it. The more aware you are of your body language, the better you can manipulate it.
Study people with good body language
Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey are just some public figures who have outstanding body language. They can hook and captivate the audience with the way they present themselves. They don’t appear nervous or reluctant. They are warm, friendly, yet professional. They don’t use long-winded sentences or jargon. Steve Jobs was known to keep his sentences short and simple, despite being a tech guy.
Even in a large crowd, these individuals were able to engage with each member of the audience. Watch their movements, study their behaviour and you might develop strong body language skills of your own.
Make it a daily habit to improve your body language
Don’t wake up an hour before the interview meeting, and practice the above two tips. You need to spend a little time daily to perfect your stance, posture and expression. If you make it a habit, the correct body language will become second nature to you and you won’t have to worry too much about it during the interview.
How Proschool helps you with your body language
IMS Proschool is a professional institution that offers accounting, finance and data science courses to students all over India. So what do they have to do with body language? Let’s find out:
- The faculty has experienced professionals from the industry. The body language they use is similar to what is expected of you at the interview rounds.
- The institute offers training in soft skills such as good communication and presentation. This will also help boost your body language level to that of a pro.
- The school has a placement program and also provides tips for interview etiquette and professional body language.
Are there any videos that can help me improve my body language in interviews?
What are some of the biggest mistakes I can make with my body language in interviews?
- Slouching posture
- Weak handshake
- Crossing arms or legs
- Gesticulating wildly
- Repeated touching your face
- Looking disinterested
- Not making eye contact
A body language researcher, Albert Mehrabian, discovered that all communication is 55 per cent nonverbal, 38 per cent vocal and 7 per cent words. This means that 93 per cent of our communication is non-verbal. That is how critical body language is. First impressions matter a lot. So ensure you present yourself as the best possible professional version. Take the time to learn about professional body language in interviews and how to make your time with the recruiter count.