What Your Interview Body Language Says About You… And How You Can Learn To Fake It ‘till You Make It

Interviews are an intimidating task for anyone no matter what stage of your career. As a graduate it’s so crucial to nail an interview if your CV is lacking experience. How many times have you sat waiting for an interview hunched over, checking your mobile phone and doubting if you’re even the right candidate for the role? What most people don’t realise is that actually the majority of communication is non-verbal and if you’re only prepared for the verbal aspect of the interview, you could potentially be falling short in the areas that matter most. Here we explore how you can use your Interview Body Language to help you secure your next job!

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Interviews are your one chance to showcase the best version of you; the last thing you want is to leave feeling like you’ve let yourself down on your chance for a big break. Confidence can play a huge part in how other people perceive you, it takes just a couple of seconds for people to judge you – and not to intimidate you, but you never get a second chance at a first impression.

This leaves us asking the question, is it really possible to fake it ‘till you make it?

Social scientist, Amy Cuddy studies the relationship between powerful people and the non-verbal communications they use in stressful situations. She describes the non-verbal’s of powerful Alpha’s as naturally open – think of a gorilla beating his chest or Usain Bolt celebrating a win. The majority of people heading in to an interview portray the exact opposite of this, with many closing down and adopting a much smaller position therefore are automatically placing themselves in lower power positions.

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Before your interview

Preparation is key to any interview – it’s so visible if a candidate hasn’t done any research or practiced answering questions under pressure. But the preparation doesn’t end the night before. When it comes to faking confidence for your interview, we suggest that you practice Cuddy’s power poses in the car, toilet or any private place before entering the building. Opening up your body for around 2 minutes is proven to increase testosterone levels and will therefore increase your confidence going into the interview room.

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Becoming an Alpha

As a graduate, it’s often easiest to accept that the person interviewing you is in a position of power. Cuddy argues that individuals compliment others non-verbals rather than challenging them – therefore it’s likely for you to shrink if a Managing Director comes storming in with a handshake that’s so hard your sure he’s broken your pinky finger. It’s important at this point to remain confident and open during the initial greeting as this can often be a way of feeling you out. Admittedly, we’re not arguing you turn it into a cock-fight and start beating your chest to each other until the other one bows down, if in doubt go with a straight up and down handshake – ensuring that neither side feels inferior.

April 11, 2015 "The culmination of years of talks resulted in this handshake between the President and Cuban President Raúl Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Once in the interview itself, remember that your interviewer will be a natural observer, so try to ensure that you maintain a powerful posture throughout. It’s so easy to shrink throughout an interview but if your applying for a role with an element of speaking to clients, it’ll be likely that an employer will be looking for a candidate who can hold their own under pressure. Don’t get too comfortable either, slouching can appear rude or disinterested. Our advice is to maintain a forward, assertive position that shows that you are interested and engaged whilst remaining confident.

Dependent on if you have to present as part of your interview, you may have brought notes with you. If you are going to be holding individual sheets of paper, ensure you don’t shuffle them around. This can be irritating for an interviewer and can often distract from the quality content you’re delivering. This goes for over-zealous hand gestures too. Remember you’re not conducting an orchestra, subtle hand movements can help to emphasise a point but if you find that your hands are flying all over, make a mental note to keep them limited.

Your body language is proven to be able to change your own feelings of confidence and power. Some people are born confident, they find it natural and command respect when they walk into a room. If that’s you, we are so jealous! But for the rest of us, it’s totally possible to fake it ‘till you make it. Making small changes to your posture can make huge changes in your own confidence. Go forth and power pose.

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Hannah Ryle (Employer Brand Consultant at JobHoller)

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