Interview Tips Part I: Body Language

From your head to your toes, your body language can say a lot about you and it may not be what you intended.  Nothing will help you lose your credibility faster than when your body language does not match your words.  When this disconnect occurs the audience don’t know what to believe – your words or your expression.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realise this is the case until they see themselves on video.   Here are some things to look out for when doing an interview.

Nodding – nodding can provide reassurance to the person you are talking to, that you are listening and agree with what they are saying.  However, nodding when someone has just started talking as well as excessive nodding can have the opposite effect.  It is distracting to the person interviewing you and its not genuine.  How can you agree with a statement or question before you hear it out?  Instead, maintain eye contact, listen intently to what they are saying and then formulate your response.  Nodding is completely unnecessary and mostly annoying to the person speaking.

Eye contact – it’s not a tennis match nor a staring competition, it’s a no brainer but do you know how many people find it difficult to maintain eye contact during a conversation?  Maintaining eye contact is essential and the reverse can be disastrous.  If you look off to the side, look away or look anywhere but at the person speaking it says ‘I’m lying” (even if you are not).  It’s a guaranteed way to lose your credibility.   Ever asked your child a question and they looked away?  You know they have something to hide and it’s the same with adults.  Stay focused on the other person while they are speaking and while you are responding.

Smile – but only when its ok to.  Smiling can be friendly or smug…. It is ok to smile but it has to be appropriate to the conversation and at the right moment.

Lip biting – biting your lip says you are fearful or anxious.  However, did you know that biting your top lip can prevent a sneeze coming on?  It’s the only time you should do it but avoid it on all other occasions.

Touching your face – touching any part of your face can mean dishonesty or deceit.   Its also distracting.  If you have an itchy nose, bad luck!  This is a no-go zone.

Arms – don’t fold them.  Yes, its comfortable.  Yes, you have heard it all before.  Yes, it can be seen as confident but it can be just as easily confused with defensive behaviour.  It is best to avoid it altogether.  Leave your arms down and put your hands in your lap, relax.

Hands – this is about balance.   Hand gestures are ok as long as they are not so over the top that they become distracting.  Open hands can be inviting.  Use them if you need but whatever you do don’t point your finger, ever.

Posture – sit up straight but remember you aren’t a surf board.  Relax your shoulders so they aren’t sitting up under your ears.  A powerful posture is open and inviting.