During an interview, the words you say are only half the battle. Body language can also be a very important aspect of how you’re perceived which can potentially make or break a meeting or interview. Whilst the content of your speech is perhaps most important aspect to consider for job interviews, you should also keep body language in mind during meetings or discussions in the workplace as a means of persuasion.
Approximately 80% of how we portray ourselves is through non-verbal cues. Hand gestures, posture, facial expressions and eye contact are just some of the things that other’s might pick up on. This is often unconscious and happens without us knowing, so, positive body language is certainly something that needs to be recognised and practised.
With this in mind, we have provided five top tips on how to recognise and control your body language so that you can excel in any business situation.
Before an interview or meeting you may be nervous – this is only natural. However, always try and ensure that you have time to compose yourself before meeting the interviewer. Check your appearance, have a glass of water and take deep breaths in order to calm down and relax.
When you meet the interviewer, greet them with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact with them. They may ask you how your journey was, so feel free to engage in small talk – this may make you feel more comfortable.
Body language expert, Robert Phipps, believes that changing position in your seat and matching the style of the interviewer can stop stage fright. By copying a similar style, you’ll feel and look more relaxed.
Most importantly, do plenty of research before an interview. The more you understand the role, the company, and the better you can explain your past experience; the more comfortable you will feel about expressing it in a detailed way.
Before your interview use a notepad to make notes and jot down any important questions, alongside any vital information about the company and the role.
Speak slowly and clearly
It’s very common to want to rush through your answer as quickly as possible when you’re nervous. It is important to speak more deliberately. This will give your brain some thinking time so that you can develop a considered answer. Perhaps think of a speaker, leader or teacher who you have enjoyed listening to and consider how they take their time. You can even ask your interviewer for a few seconds to think if you need to!
Maintain eye contact
By maintaining eye contact who you’re speaking to, you will appear confident in what you’re saying and it’s also a good indicator of trustworthiness. Looking up whilst you are thinking of an answer is perfectly natural but be sure to regain eye contact while you’re speaking.
Don’t forget to engage with everybody in the room if there is more than one person interviewing you. Interviewers will understand if you are a little nervous, so it helps to smile. This will help you settle any nerves and ‘break the ice.’
Be conscious of your body movements
Sit up straight and lean forward slightly as this is a signal to show that you are actively engaged in the conversation and listening closely. Avoid fidgeting and slouching to one side as this can show nervousness and can make you seem closed off from the situation. At the same time, while you want to appear keen, don’t appear over-enthusiastic and put people off.
Learn from experience
Recognising your body language and the protocols of an interview can depend on experience. Not every interview will be a success, but treat them as a learning experience. You just need to prepare for each interview as it comes and become confident with the types of questioning that may come up, and how to answer them to the best of your ability.
One great tip for improvement is to write down every question that you have faced in an interview and how you could have improved on the answer you gave. Experience is a really important factor when it comes to interviews and the more you do, the more confident you will be.
However, preparation is absolutely pivotal to success, whether it’s a job interview or a business discussion.