In any interaction, including an interview, your body language, and what you don’t say can convey more than what you do. According to anthropologist Ray Birdwhittell, 65% of communication occurs nonverbally. Body language can offer insight into how a person is thinking or feeling and it can make or break your chances of landing a job. Here are several tips for how you can use your body language to your advantage in your next interview:
Maintain Eye Contact
- Maintaining eye contact shows you’re paying attention and is a sign of respect. It also projects confidence to an interviewer. Poor eye contact is considered disrespectful and comes off as disinterest.
- For video interviews, place your laptop or webcam close to eye level so that way it will not seem like you are looking down at your interviewer. It also gives the interviewer the ability to see facial expressions and hand gestures which will contribute to meaningful human connection.
- In video interviews, look directly at the camera when answering a hiring manager’s questions instead of looking at yourself on screen. This will make the hiring manager feel like you are speaking directly to them instead of to your screen.
Pay Attention to Body Posture
- Good posture is vital during interviews, even those on video. Sitting up straight and leaning forward slightly projects confidence and engagement. Slouching or crossing your arms indicates disinterest, lack of self-confidence and respect, and closes yourself off from the interviewer.
- For video interviews, make sure to maintain good posture because slouching is just as evident on video as it is in person.
- Fidgeting, including wringing your hands and bouncing your legs indicates nerves and can distract an interviewer. Try and avoid fidgeting in your interview so you appear more confident and engaged.
- For video interviews, do not sneak looks at your phone, you would not look at your phone during an in-person interview so you should not do it during a video interview.
- Nodding in agreement and smiling are natural parts of a conversation. These reactions show hiring managers you are paying attention and that you are genuine.
- Do not overexaggerate your gestures or try too hard because it can be very obvious and can hurt your chances of getting the job. Allow yourself to react naturally, never force a reaction.
Practice Active Listening
- Engaging in active listening is crucial during any interview whether it is in person or on video. You want to show the interviewer you are paying attention and listening attentively. Though you may be listening, sitting stoically and staring impassively does not come across very well to the interviewer. Using active listening demonstrates interest and engagement in the interview and the position.
- Listen to an interviewer’s tone of voice and keep an eye on their facial expressions and body language throughout the interview.
- Use nonverbal cues to show understanding and engagement including nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward.
Appropriate body language and customs can vary depending on the country in which you are interviewing. The international business customs should guide your interaction. You want to be respectful so it is vital you research a country’s business customs before your interview because small interactions such as your punctuality and greeting can make or break your interview.
The way you present yourself matters because it is the first impression the interviewer will have of you. Proper greetings vary depending on the country. Examples of different greetings include:
- Japan – Bow slightly and avoid eye contact
- France – Strong eye contact accompanied by a firm handshake
- Belgium – Air kisses, one on each cheek
Customary symbols and gestures differ around the world and something considered polite in the United States could be considered improper or insulting in another country. For example, physical contact including shaking hands or patting arms is considered inappropriate in China, Korea, Thailand, and the Middle East. Whereas in other countries, such as Brazil, physical contact is expected and accustomed.
It is always best to arrive early to any meeting or interview, however, punctuality customs fluctuate depending on the country. In some countries such as Japan and China, it is imperative you arrive to meetings early or at the exact time planned because schedules are very tight. In other countries such as France, it is not uncommon for meeting or interview participants to arrive late. The best rule of thumb is to arrive between five to fifteen minutes early regardless of where you are interviewing.
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Annika Wanger is a Junior at Butler University studying Marketing, Applied Business Technology, and Data Science. She is currently interning in Singapore for Interviewer.AI during the summer of 2022. Besides work, she is very interested in traveling, reading, and cooking for family and friends as hobbies.