When it comes to interviews, words are considered the most important part of the interview process. How we convey ourselves through words in response to the interviewer’s questions can make or break our chances of getting the job.
But what about body language? Often we’re so nervous or focused on how we get our credentials across in the best way possible, that we don’t always pick up on the subtle signals from the interviewer that gives away crucial information. Using the interviewer’s body language to your benefit can up your chances of landing that job.
Interview Is the Arena for You to Demonstrate How Personable You Are
As mentioned before, what we say in an interview is important in order to inform the interviewer of your suitability for the role. But what’s equally important is how personable we are in terms of how we come across.
It can be easy to adopt a ‘them and me’ mentality where we see the interviewer across the table as a machine we have to convince to hire us – void of any human thought or perspective but of course this isn’t true. Interviewers do have their preferences and biases to a certain degree when it comes to the type of person you come across as.
This is why creating a smooth and pleasant interview can really get you ahead of other candidates because this, in effect, is showing them you are someone likeable and agreeable to work together with. As humans, we automatically seek out those who are amiable and make us feel comfortable.
And, of course, we all prefer working with people who can easily understand what we mean and and convey a relevant corresponding response.
The More You Can Decode the Interviewer’s Body Language, the More You’re Able to Turn Threats into Opportunities
Our own body language is extremely important in interviews but how much attention do you pay to the interviewer’s?
Reading the positive body language that interviewers give off – usually smiling and nodding as you give your answer and as a reaction to how you’re behaving – is pretty easy. However, trying to decode negative body language is where it can start to get tricky.
For starters, any negative body language we do pick up on, can send us into a worrying and negative mindset making us think the interview maybe isn’t going as well as we thought. But what’s worse is misunderstanding what the negative body language means causing us to correct ourselves in the wrong way. This can then give off the wrong signals and may even sabotage the interview.
The reality is that interviews rarely go completely smoothly and in fact it can be a perfect test if you have the ability to turn, what seems like a negative, into an opportunity. This is why being able to decode body language more effectively will help you more with landing the job.
Common Negative Body Language and How to React Well to It
Here is some common body language from interviewers that could be interpreted as negative and the best course of action to take to make a good impact.
When someone raises their eyebrows it’s usually interpreted by the other person as having said something surprising or questionable. If the interviewer does this you should stop what you’re saying and clarify your point before they have to ask.
Not Making Eye Contact
If they’ve been making good eye contact up to this point (ruling out the possibility of having difficulty with eye contact) it’s usually a sign that they’re losing interest. Here you should either get to the point more quickly or change the strategy of answering the question.
Tapping on the Desk or Fidgeting
This is a sign that they are aware of time restraints so either they feel time is running out or the end of the interview is approaching. Use this to your advantage by taking the opportunity to add any extra qualities you want to highlight (as long as they are in context).
They Stop Taking Notes
It can be disconcerting when you notice that they’ve stopped writing down what you’re saying and usually it is a sign that your answer may not be satisfactory enough. When this happens, make sure you end your point as quickly as possible and begin another one. It may also be better to try a different approach.
Always Enter an Interview With a Positive Mindset
Remember, decoding body language can be subjective. While the interviewer may well be giving away what they’re thinking, for many it’s an intentional way to see how well you react under pressure. But don’t let this put you off – if you maintain a positive mindset throughout and be aware of possible negative signs then you will be more relaxed in dealing with them.
If indeed they are testing you, reacting in a calm and confident manner is the way to show them you aren’t flustered or easily put off.
By adopting this positive mindset:
- You realise that you shouldn’t expect to get every question right. Much of the time, the interviewer may not fully know the answer themselves or they’re more interested in your thought processes. So stay calm and relaxed even if you feel you’ve answered incorrectly.
- You will be less likely to judge yourself harshly or put pressure on yourself to perform perfectly. This will allow the interview to flow in a more natural state and let the interviewer see you in a more personable way rather than in complete interview mode.
- You will be more confident in realising that the interview is just as much for you as it is for them. Asking questions to gather more information for yourself will not only benefit you, but allow a better and more natural interaction during the interview.
- You will realise that not all interviewers are prepared and often aren’t especially trained in interviewing. If you keep this in mind, even if the interviewer is very professional, it will stop you from developing that sense of inferiority.
- You will be more likely to maintain enthusiasm which goes a long way when shown at the right times during an interview.
So next time you enter the interview room, be aware of negative body language, stay calm and react accordingly. Be positive and be personable – this is what interviewers are always looking for, if not to see if you’re a good fit, then definitely on a subconscious level. Good luck!