Body Language in an Interview

How you present yourself in an interview can influence the overall impressive you make on the interviewer. Some studies have said the words we use only account for 10% of the information communicated. The other 90% is made up of you body language, eye contact, tone, pitch, pace and volume.

Can you improve the non-verbal aspects of your interview performance?

Absolutely. Your non-verbal behavior can be adapted to suit any situation. Individuals in the public eye, actors, politicians and salespeople, work on their non-verbal behavior. Some employ coaches to work on these skills routinely throughout their careers. Hiring a full time coach is not practical for most people, though.

There are a few basic tactics that you can employ. The first and most important is to be enthusiastic. In an interview, you should show your interest in the position. Speaking in a monotone with low energy will make a bad impression.

The second tactic you should employ is mirroring. Pay attention to the interviewer and their non-verbal queues. If they sit very straight and lean forward, adopt a similar posture. If they sit back and slouch, you can relax and lean back a little, although you should maintain a professional appearance regardless of what the interviewer does. Mirroring can be extended to speaking style. If the interviewer speaks very quickly, you should try to match their pace.

Mirroring is a talent and a skill. Some people do it very naturally, while others struggle. To be most effective, you should mirror the interviewer almost unconsciously. I’m sure you have had the experience where you met someone and immediately liked them and bonded with them. Usually, this happens when two people have significant similarities in their non-verbal communication.

Because our non-verbal communication is done naturally without thinking, it is extremely difficult to for most people to change. You can learn mirroring techniques, but they take work and practice. Many job seekers find interviews very intimidating and struggle to know what to say. Focusing on mirroring can make this a greater challenge.

Should you adapt your non-verbal communication?

Yes and No. There are significant advantages to a positive attitude, good eye contact and paying attention to the body language of the interviewer. At the same time, you should only pay attention to these elements if they do not distract you from listening effectively. Failing to listen will hurt your chances much more than having your body language a little out of sync with the interviewer.  You should focus on listening closely, providing good answers and adapting subtly to the interviewer.  If you do these three things, you will give yourself the best chance of getting hired.