Body language can enhance what you’re saying or it can contradict it. Non-verbal cues are just as powerful, and sometimes more so, than the words you say. In a job interview, you need to pay as much attention to your body language as you do to the answers you give.
Whether your interview is in-person or virtual, body language plays a role in helping you move to the next round of interviews. Here are three ways to use body language to your advantage in your next interview:
Maintaining eye contact is important, especially in a virtual interview. It projects confidence and is also a sign of respect. To ensure that you’re making eye contact during a video call, place your laptop or webcam close to eye level. This way, when you’re looking at the hiring manager on the screen it won’t seem like you’re looking down. You can buy a laptop stand to raise your computer or just use a stack of books, either works fine.
When you’re answering the hiring manager’s questions, look directly into the camera. This will make it feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and maintain the same type of eye contact you would if you were doing an in-person interview. It’s okay to glance down at your screen to check the hiring manager’s reactions, but be sure to look back up at the camera after that quick glance.
For in-person interviews, look directly at the hiring manager both when you’re speaking and when they’re speaking. This shows that you’re paying attention and aren’t distracted by anything else in the room. Don’t look at the clock, your watch, or your phone, and don’t spend time staring at things on the hiring manager’s desk, no matter how interesting they are.
Your posture actually says a lot about you. Sitting up straight projects confidence, while slouching projects disinterest. Fidgeting, either with your hands or bouncing legs, indicates nerves. Arms crossed while sitting upright indicates you’re closed off, while arms crossed while rounding your shoulders indicates shyness or nervousness.
To make a good impression, want to make sure you’re sitting up straight and you aren’t fidgeting. You can move around to shift positions a couple of times, but avoid doing this too frequently.
In a virtual interview, posture is just as important. Just because the interviewer can only see your head and shoulders doesn’t mean your body language won’t show through. Slouching and fidgeting are just as obvious on Zoom as they are in person. Sitting up straight has the same effect as it does in person – projecting confidence and engagement.
Small gestures like nodding in agreement and smiling are natural parts of a conversation. In an interview, they carry a lot of weight too. For starters, those reactions show that you’re paying attention to what the hiring manager is saying. They also signal that you’re being genuine in your reactions, as long as they aren’t overexaggerated. A gentle nod is better than an overly enthusiastic one, and smiles need to come naturally, not forced.
Small gestures work when they’re genuine, so allow yourself to react but never force it. If you try too hard, it’s rather obvious that it’s not genuine, and this could hurt your chances of getting the job.