What is your body language saying in an interview?
Body Language; everyone uses it every day. Nevertheless, what message is your body language sending in an interview?
More often than not, we are unaware of the language our body is speaking, especially in a tense situation. When we have less than 30 minutes to convey who we really are and what we really mean body language plays a significant role, particularly on the subconscious level to the listener, or in the case of the interview, the evaluator.
Interviewing is not an easy task and to portray yourself properly it is important to understand one very prominent fundamental that can affect your body language… without you even knowing it: nerves.
One thing that can influence your body language is how you cope with nervous energy. You may exhibit physical characteristics, however unintentional, that can influence how the interviewer perceives the real you.
How do nerves affect you physically? Do you develop “nervous ticks?”
Let us explore a few body postures and their possible interpretations.
- Frowning, pursed lips or squinting:
Interviewer Interpretation: aggression, anger or “bad attitude.”
Solution: Concentrate instead on simply smiling. In a tense situation, the first thing to disappear is the smile. How will they know you want to be there unless you show them….with a smile? Try it. It is nearly impossible to frown, purse or even squint while smiling.
- Avoiding eye contact:
Interviewer Interpretation: boredom, disinterest or dishonesty.
The reality is that it is completely unnatural to retain constant eye contact. Constant eye contact, perceived as glaring, has a negative effect as well as well as avoidance.
Solution: Just talk normally to the interviewer – as if you are having a conversation with an old friend. It is normal to look away every now and then, particularly when you are thinking about an answer. Just be aware of how long you are avoiding their beady eyes staring back at you.
- Tapping toes, tapping legs, swinging feet or drumming fingers:
Interviewer Interpretation: not interested, anxious to leave as quickly as possible.
Solution: try shifting your weight slightly or practice nerve-calming techniques.
- Slouching, leaning or turning away in your seat (or even standing):
Interviewer Interpretation: disinterest, disrespect and “attitude.” This posture indicates defensiveness or being “closed” to the other person.
Solution: Put your feet flat on the floor, toes facing forward and sit up straight! Do I sound like your Mother?
- Arms crossed, legs crossed, looking down:
Interviewer Interpretation: closed, may be hiding something.
Solution: Relax your arms, resting your hands on the legs, toes facing forward.
Pay attention to your body language. Just like listening to yourself when you speak an answer, you should be watching your body language as well. Do you relate to any of the aforementioned items? If so, you must consciously counter-balance them. The first step is recognizing the behavior. The second step is to understand how the mannerisms are perceived and finally…do something about it!
About the Author:
Lori Clark, Owner of Clark Consulting (FlyTheLine.com), helps pilots to understand how an airline interview board perceives them. As a former Manager of Pilot Recruiting, she has interviewed thousands of airline pilots. Clark now helps pilots prepare for airline interviews by working with each client individually teaching techniques for better communication and understanding. For more information, please visit Clark Consulting at http://www.FlyTheLine.com.
©2008 Clark Aviation Consulting, All Rights Reserved. Reprints with permission.