3 body positions that can make or break your next interview

Man sitting waiting for an interview

Is your body language saying more in your interview than you are?

Some experts say that around 50% of how we communicate as human beings is with our body language. My own experience from speaking to candidates over the years is that while a lot of preparation is made to respond to competency based questioning, very little thought goes into mentally preparing non-verbal communication.

What kind of messages are you sending via non-verbal means? Are your body positions during an interview detracting from all the great things you are saying about what you can bring to the table?

Interview preparation should go much further than reading up on the latest news items about your potential employer or the technical stack that they utilise. You should also think about and prepare how you present yourself to the interviewer.

Here are three common body positions, what they mean and how to avoid them at your next interview.

  1. Crossed arms and legs
    This shows that you are mentally, emotionally, and physically blocked off from what’s in front of you. This is particularly revealing because in most situations it's completely unintentional. This protective stance indicates that you are closed off from your audience, and while it may be due to interview nerves, it can be seen as presenting a negative message.

    Try your best to relax and adopt a more open body position. During the interview use gestures where your palms are exposed to communicate honesty and engagement.

    As the other extreme, having your hands clasped behind your head exhibits extreme openness and projects power, but it could be seen as overkill.

  2. Poor posture
    Standing or sitting up straight with your shoulders back is not just good posture – it’s a position of power, maximising the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form; it makes you look as though you take up less space and projects less power.

    While in the reception or waiting area before your interview, pretend your head, neck and spine are being held taut by a string. Maintaining good posture commands respect and promotes engagement, whether you’re a leader or not.

  3. Excessive nodding
    Nodding can help you show your interviewer that you are an engaged and listening. However, excessive head-nodding can signify that you are worried about what you think of them or that you doubt your ability to follow instructions.

    To project self-assurance and authority, especially when expressing an opinion, keep a still head. Change up your signals by using gentle verbal agreement or more decisive repetition of key points. This goes a much longer way in giving the speaker confidence that you are listening and digesting their points.

    Interviews present an interesting scenario where, in some cases, emotions are heightened and nerves dominate how we react to situations. Take a moment to write positive reminders on a post-it note before your next interview and read them through several times beforehand. Some of that positivity will rub off and you will find the interview will flow much better.

-   Joe Vines, Account Manager at Resource Solutions

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