The Finito Guide to Interviews #3: Body Language

Lean Into It

When you’re evoking positive, confident body language, there are a few ways you can suggest your mental state through the way you sit down. To seem assured and confident, sit firmly and lean back into your chair – helpful when you’re answering a question, because it will make you seem absolutely at ease with your knowledge. When you’re listening, on the other hand, it’s a good idea to lean forward – towards the speaker. Don’t overdo it – a slight lean is enough to suggest that you’re interested and engaged in what’s being said. 

Stay Grounded

Put both feet on the ground – it sounds silly, but there’s a scientific benefit to keeping your feet grounded – Body language expert Patti Wood says “It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to answer highly complex questions unless both of your feet are on the ground. It has to do with being able to go back and forth easily between the limbic reptilian brain and the neocortex brain – responsible for creative and rational thought, respectively.”

Breathe

Make sure you’re breathing properly – because when you’re nervous, you might find yourself breathing too quickly, or not enough. Look up some mindfulness techniques in advance of your interview – most guided meditations start with a simple breathing exercise which you can do anywhere, but it can be as easy as taking ten deep breaths before your interview starts. This will help to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure – which in turn should make you feel a little less stressed.

Make Eye Contact – Within Reason

Yes, eye contact is important to make a connection with somebody, but you should be careful not to overdo it. Body language expert Dr Lillian Glass recommends ‘direct face contact’ instead – so instead of staring into your interviewer’s eyes, let your gaze move around their face, from eyes, to nose, to lips – moving on every two seconds. This will help you look interested and engaged, rather than intense and creepy.

Hands Off

Now that handshakes are out of vogue, you don’t have to worry about clammy palms – but you should still pay attention to what your hands are doing during the interview. Get a friend to record you doing a mock interview, and pay attention to the things you do subconsciously while you’re talking and listening. Touching your fingertips, moving your fingers as you speak, or resting your hands in your lap are all great things to do, because they suggest animation and confidence. Clenching your fists, waving your hands quickly, or biting your nails aren’t as clever – these can all make you appear nervous.