In a recent post we published about interview rejection, we shared insight about our body language and how often it communicates a message we aren’t aware of.
If that is the case how important is body language when it comes to communication and interviews? Very relevant it would seem.
The Impact Of Body Language
Here is an incredible statistic for you...... According to data recently shared on a popular recruitment website, 33% of hiring managers report that they can tell if they will hire a candidate or not within 90 seconds!
What are they basing this decision on? Non-verbal body language.
As much as we can sit and debate how ethical this is, it is unfortunately a reality of human nature and the interview process and bias of many.
So we need to focus on how we successfully combat this by ‘alter’ our body language, so we are perceived in a good, rather than questionable light at an interview?
The Research That Proves A Point
This information is based on many decades of research by the eminent Albert Mehrabian of UCLA.
His findings have revealed that when we communicate a message, the receiver’s feelings and attitudes are:-
- 7% determined by spoken communication
- 38% relates to our voice and all its qualities.
- 55% of how we communicate relates to our body language.
So basically “It’s not what we say, it’s the way that we say it” that makes the difference between how well or not our bodies ‘communicate’.
Of course its imperative to undertake serious preparation before your interview so that you can answers questions such as "Tell me about yourself? "; "What is yourmost significant success? " and "What would your last manager say about your strengths and development areas?"
However, it is clear that we need to place significant importance as well on how we might communicate this non- verbally.
When people send mixed messages, or their verbal messages don't agree with their body language, their credibility can crumble because most interviewers will believe the nonverbal over the spoken word; it’s unconscious too.
If 93% of how you communicate your skills is non-verbal, you need to know how to make the most of your body language.
Here are few basic body language tweaks, that are proven to make a difference to how you are perceived.
Your Walk and Posture
I am sure you will have heard the much used phrase of we have only a few seconds to make a good first impression. If this is the case, which we have no reason to believe it's not, how you walk into a room to meet the interviewing panel is essential.
One expert in the field suggests you walk directly towards the person interviewing you with your body pointing in their direction, making sure you give and hold eye contact and occasionally glance away.
Think about confident people you know? How do they stand? Generally with shoulders back rather than slouched over. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back.
There is a great TED talk by Amy Cuddy the well-known social psychologist that will help that you can watch later here.
Any of us in the grip of a severe bout of nerves can frown,not always the best look and one that can put employers off. Think of it from their perspective. Though they are looking for a skilled employee, they also want positive, engaged people in their company. Smiling during your interview can, therefore, make a significant impact on your non-verbal communication.
Develop a Firm Handshake
Hiring manager’s report that more than a quarter of candidates have weak handshakes. This is incredibly easy to correct and will drastically transform your first impression. We touch on this aspect further in The Recruiting & Career podcast called First Impressions. You can listen to this on itunes here.
Contrary to popular belief it isn’t only teenagers that slouch. If you're a natural sloucher, this is one to pay attention to. Think about how you sit in the chair. It’s recommended that you sit back in the chair so that your back is touching and leaning against the chair. This is an automatic signal of assurance and confidence.
[Hint: Employers love employing confident people. They make a connection in their mind that confidence means you will be great at your role and add value to the organisation.]
Make Eye Contact
All Human beings are different, and while some of us find eye contact easy, others simply don’t. Being nervous doesn’t help this situation either as it can be tempting to look at anything but the person who is asking you questions.
It’s also well known that when some people think and process they look away too; if you have a sense that might be you, then remember to look up as soon as you can when you have the answer to a question you are asked.
Because avoiding eye contact can be perceived in the wrong way. It can indicate a lack of confidence. It will also weaken your communication, and some people even think that people who don’t have good eye contact are dishonest.
What’s more lack of eye contact limits your ability to read the responses of the hiring panel, either positive or negative?
Did you know 67% of people fail to make eye contact in interviews, so even if you only make a steady gaze you WILL set you apart.
Demonstrate You Are listening
Aside from keeping eye and face contact, 'nodding' your head while listening is an additional way to show attentiveness. You may even say, “yes” or another verbal cue occasionally that
lets the interviewer know you are enjoying and understanding the conversation.
During the interview, it’s a good idea to ask questions when apprpriate to demonstrate you are listening and engaged in the discussion. For instance, if the hiring manager is talking about an award the organisation has won a question such as; “What do you think made the difference for you when the judges were comparing?”
Ask for Feedback
Along with dress sense, body language are the two crucial areas where it’s easy to make a positive impact and improve your interview chances. Here at Lucy Walker, we have placed thousands of candidates over 25 years, and we know what works. Want some useful feedback and advice?
Then ask, we are happy to help.