At our London recruitment agency we are also body language experts! It comes with the territory of being in the recruitment niche. We are always looking for the unspoken message. We need some up-to-date studies to be done, but the consensus is that around 55% of communication comes down to body language. Yes, that’s the majority!
We decided to chat to a bunch of our most experienced hiring managers from a range of employers to find out what body language they pick up on in an interview.
Jasmine, an HR manager for a sales-based business says, “Eye contact is an interesting one. It allows for a connection to be made but it’s all about balance. Get it right and it’s brilliant. Go too long or too intense and it comes across as awkward. It needs to be natural, and back and forth. This is particularly true in an interview where the interviewee is potentially speaking at length for a while. I recommend candidates look at their interviewer for about 5-8 seconds before glancing away, and then coming back again. This also means that you can look directly at the interviewer, to make your point more pertinently, when you need to.”
James, a department manager for an investment bank involved with graduate recruitment says, “Body language tells me a lot. Not just in the interview, but throughout the different aspects of our recruitment programme. I pay attention to how candidates stand, sit, and walk. Nerves are often evident in posture, and that’s okay. What I’m looking for is someone confident enough to hold their own, but not over-confident to the degree of arrogance. An open posture, without crossed arms and legs, helps me warm to a candidate too.”
“Fiddling is so distracting,” says Hannah, a recruitment specialist. “Hair twisting, pen flicking, jiggling your leg… it all serves as a distraction and can make it really difficult for the interviewer to properly concentrate on what you’ve got to say. We know it’s usually a sign that you are nervous, but it’s incredibly distracting and can even come across as if you’re not being totally honest.”
Closely related to body language, and affecting the meaning of the words you say, is your tone of voice and speed of speech. Tom, a peer interviewer for a large London firm, says, “Talking too fast is a sign of nerves so you need to consciously slow yourself down. It’s then a case of balancing your tone to appear eager and engaged, without appearing demanding or defensive. Try to alter your pitch too. Interviews aren’t exactly riveting fun and if you’re talking in monotone you won’t be memorable.”
The easiest way to monitor your body language during an interview is to simply be aware of it. You can also watch the interviewer’s body language to see how they are responding. As humans, we often mirror each other subconsciously. This will also change as the interview goes on and both parties become more relaxed and at ease in each other’s company.
If you think that your body language may be holding you back in an interview, have a friend carry out a practice interview and film you. You can then watch this back to see what your impression is of your own body language and be more conscious of any changes you should make!
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