Body Language and Image in the Interview Process

Did you know that Body Language (non-verbal signals) are approximately five times as effective as the spoken word? And that visual ‘first impressions’ make the biggest contribution to an interviewer making their mind up either positively or negatively about you, usually within the first five minutes.

This is what makes your attention to detail about your ‘image management’ vital to your success. Everything from your entry into reception to how you engage in conversation with recruiters and potential employers is being subconsciously and consciously evaluated. This is why it is important to project yourself confidently, with a positive tone. Not brashly, not arrogantly, but by being prepared (researched), appearing interested and upbeat about the role AND meeting the interviewer. The interview should not be viewed as a trial, but as a chance for a pleasant mutual information transfer.

Initial interviewer impressions include: your entrance, handshake, eye contact and physical appearance. All of these facets comprise the impression you will make, and can often convey a stronger message than what you actually say. Because once a bad impression is made the interviewer is likely to tune out or look to closing down the interview early. Your job here is to make a strong early connection with the interviewer so they want to listen to you and put you forward.

Job Interviews – The Components to Success
The components that an interviewer makes judgments on when first meeting someone includes, but is not limited to:

  • Posture
  • Eye contact
  • Personal Grooming
  • Clothes
  • Body Language

Your Posture: Confidence is projected when you walk tall with your head up and shoulders back.  Ideally your posture should embody a confident and friendly entrance into the reception and continue when you are greeted by the interviewer.  During the interview, sit up straight with your bottom into the back of the chair, to project interest and alertness.  You may wish to lean forward at certain stages of the conversation, but avoid taking up the interviewer’s ‘personal space’ or appearing too eager or even desperate.

Eye Contact: Looking directly at the person you are speaking to is interpreted as a gesture of interest, trust and confidence, so ensure that this is done throughout the interview.  You can also use a nod of the head to indicate understanding and agreement.  It is advisable to smile your way through most of the interview – which will have the natural effect of putting the interviewer and yourself at ease.

Personal Grooming: This area involves all the things your mother told you about.  Such things as clean facial hair (men), well manicured nails, use of deodorant, light make-up and fragrance etc.  Be sure your breath will be fresh smelling, however under no circumstances should you be either chewing gum or have a mint in your mouth during the interview.  For cigarette smokers, ensure that your clothes and hair do not smell of cigarettes, as this can be a real negative with employers.

Clothes: Your interview attire is very important.  The general rule is to dress conservatively and professionally.  Do not make the mistake of distracting the interviewer with obvious fashion mistakes – anything that is too bold, old or out of place could count against you.  Women have more options than men regarding appropriate interview attire, but again the general safest rule is to think ‘corporate.’

Body Language: If you are a person who uses their hands a lot for speaking, try to keep this to a minimum.  This will not only distract the interviewer from your words but will break your eye contact.  The less you use your arms and hands, the more powerful you will appear.  Avoid sitting with your arms or legs crossed, which can be seen as an arrogant or defensive gesture. ‘Mirroring’ the body language of the interviewer is a good technique – as like people attract.  If you reflect back the body language of the interviewer, you are more likely to make a positive impression and put them at ease.