Reading Body Language At Interviews

 

You go to an interview trying to make a good impression.  Sometimes, however, you don’t have much of an idea how well you’ve done until you get that job offer – or not.  So learn to read clues from the body language of the people interviewing you.  That way you can modify how you behave, for the best chance of success.

 


Look out for:
  • Positive signs
  • Warning signals
  • Eye signals – the eyes express feelings that the rest of the body may hide
  • The way your interviewer is leaning
  • A good ending
 

POSITIVE SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR

 
  • If your interviewer nods their head or tilts it towards you, that’s a sign they’re paying attention and they probably approve of you
  • If they mirror your body language (such as crossing their hands when you cross your legs or tilting their head as you tilt yours) that’s really encouraging, showing they identify with your views and empathise with any feelings you’ve expressed.  They may also feel you’re a kindred spirit
  • Lots of eye contact?  That’s brilliant.  But don’t despair if he or she is looking at their paperwork.  It could be your CV or application, and if they’re taking that in it’s a good sign  
  • If their legs are extended towards you with ankles crossed, you’re heading in the right direction. 
  • Lots of smiles are the best sign of all.
 

HERE ARE SOME WARNING SIGNALS

 
  • Looking repeatedly at the clock, examining their finger-nails, tapping their pen – all these are signs that you’re being boring.  This might not be your fault, but change tack if you can before you lose them completely
  • If the feet of the interviewer are pulled back from you, wrapped round chair-legs or pointing at the door it means your interviewer is zoning you out.  Counter this by asking some clever and appreciative question about the job 
  • It’s a definite warning if your interviewer folds their arms in the middle of a statement, flares their nostrils and turns away.  You’ve offended them, or said something they totally disagree with.  If this happens, address it directly by asking politely if you’ve said the wrong thing
  • Raised eyebrows along with a sneer means they don’t believe what you’re saying.  If that happens, ask if there’s anything they want you to clarify  
 
Never despair when you see negative body language.  Although it’s important to respond correctly to it, remember it may not be totally your fault.  Your interviewer my be having a bad day, or could have misunderstood you.  Take control by sitting up straight, meeting their gaze and asking sensible questions.
 

A WORD ABOUT EYE SIGNALS

 
Eye movements are very instinctual.  Even if the person interviewing you is conscious of not giving too much away, their thoughts can come through in their eye-movements.  Take note of:
  • Interviewer talking to you but not meeting your eyes – this means don’t interrupt, I haven’t finished and at the moment I don’t want to hear your views.  Wait till the person meets your eyes again before looking for an opportunity to air your views
  • If your interviewer looks upwards to the right as they speak they could just possibly be misleading you.  If they do this when promising you specific benefits, take care.  However, if they are talking about the future of the company, or your possible future, this could be a creative thinker who is visualising the best
  • If you look away from your interviewer while he or she is speaking it gives the message that you are not totally satisfied with what you are hearing and have some qualifying ideas.  If you do this, your interviewer will probably instinctively ask for your views.  Make sure they are clear, intelligent and pleasantly worded
  • If you look away from your interviewer in the middle of saying something it can give the impression you aren’t sure of yourself.  It’s fine to look away while you are searching for words, but return your gaze to the person to whom you are talking to as soon as you can
  • Looking straight at your interviewer while you speak shows confidence.  However, don’t turn this into a staring competition, or you could appear arrogant or confrontational.  If your interviewer stares powerfully at you while he or she is speaking to you, then this is a dominant person who will be very sure of themselves but could be quite demanding.  Do you want to work for them?

 

 

LEANING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

 
If your interviewer leans towards you it means, literally, they are leaning your way.  It is best to respond to this with open body language of your own – arms open, hands expressive and slightly leaning forwards yourself.  In this way you will be mirroring their body language which they will instinctively find pleasant.  However, don’t go too far with this if you are sitting close to each other because you could begin to invade each other’s body space, which will be very awkward.
 
If your interviewer is leaning back, or has their arms folded, that’s not an encouraging sign.  Either they aren’t impressed with you or they’re waiting for you to show what you’re made of.  Don’t panic.  Choose your words carefully and lean forwards very slightly yourself, keeping your posture open.  Watch the little eye-signals (see above) to see if you are gaining ground.
 

FIRM HANDSHAKE AND SMILE WHEN YOU LEAVE

 

This is a brilliant sign and there’s a good chance you’ve nailed it – unless this is a super-polite interviewer or unless another candidate follows you and is even more suitable.  But it would be a mistake to drop your guard.  Stay professional until you are well out of sight and sound of the interviewer, and always be totally upbeat and positive.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP

 

You know how to interpret certain signs that you’re on the right, or wrong track, eye-movements, leaning, and the best body language to encounter when an interview ends.  If you use your intuition you should have a pretty good idea of whether you’ve got the position long before you hear.  But if you aren’t sure, can’t bear to wait and need advice about your job, plenty of help is at hand with our expert Readers, so call today and get the heads up on your interview and its outcome.

 

 

PUBLISHED: 25 July 2018

 

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