Psychologists differ on the exact amount body language plays in a successful interview, with estimates as wide as 40 per cent to 90 per cent of the success criteria. Whoever is right, it reinforces the fact that correct body language is a major key to progressing forward in the interview process.
Career consultant Mike De Boer believes "body language sets the interview chemistry starting from when you arrive on the premises. Avoiding closed body language, like crossed legs and arms, as well as looking down and slouching, can really improve your perception in the employer's mind."
Sit up and take confidence from the fact you have been selected ahead of numerous other candidates for this interview. Sitting up keeps you focused and alert, while slouching gives the impression that you don't really care about the opportunity that you are being interviewed for. Don't rock on your chair or put your feet on the coffee table (both of which have happened to me while I have been interviewing senior level candidates.)
Try not to be annoying…
It obviously makes sense to also avoid nervous personal habits like fidgeting, scratching your ear or nose or clicking your pen (I actually had a pen wrenched out of my hand by a frustrated recruiter early in my job search career.)
Importance of eye contact
De Boer suggests "avoiding constant direct eye contact, but glance into the interviewer's eyes then look away". I know in my interview experience, having a candidate stare at you non-stop for 60 minutes can be very unnerving. In a panel situation I personally suggest giving the person who asked the question 40-50 per cent of your eye contact, dividing the rest of your "eye time" between the rest of the interviewers.
Mirroring the interviewer
Another good option is to discreetly mirror the interviewer's body language according to De Boer. This subtly aligns you subconsciously with the interviewer, however can really backfire if you end up blatantly copying them during your time together.
Open gestures generally tend to add positivity to an interview, with the subconscious tone being "I am an open and engaging person who is friendly and approachable." As simple as this sounds, it makes a huge amount of sense when you compare people with open and closed body language styles during the interview process.
Normally we don't ever think about our body language, however under the spotlight of an interview, we tend to over analyse and over think every blink, smile and movement. Understand that to be successful, you are not trying to stop any overt sign of body language, just calm it down and be natural in your communication.
Contact Tom O'Neil and the team at CV.CO.NZ for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your career coach. Visit www.cv.co.nz or www.CareerCoach.nz to find out more.