Choose your language:

Hong Kong
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States

Is your body language ruining your IT interview?

February 27, 2014

Interviews are a bit of a fine art. You need to make a strong first impression, communicate your strengths effectively and present yourself as a professional, confident person who's a great fit for the team. Even if you have the perfect background and say all the right things, that's only half the battle. It's all about how you say it—and what your body is saying, too.

According to Gulf News, two-thirds of your interviewer's brain will be focused on receiving and interpreting your non-verbal signals, from how you look to how you sit in your chair. While your responses to interview questions are important, the right presentation is crucial to sealing the deal for that IT job.

Before you even open your mouth, your appearance speaks volumes to your interviewers. That's why you must dress appropriately for your interview. You should research the company's dress code and wear clothes that are just a step above what you would wear on the job. Make sure your attire is clean and free of wrinkles. Give yourself a few moments before you enter the interview room to compose yourself, check your laces and straighten your jacket so you're not adjusting anything in front of your interviewers.

Your natural facial expression can also make an immediate impact. Leadership coach John Sudol told Forbes magazine that people should be aware of what their "static face" looks like when they're not actively responding to any stimulus. Some people's facial features naturally convey an angry or concerned expression, which can be off-putting. Be aware of how your face looks when you enter a room to make sure you're not accidentally appearing unfriendly or disengaged.

In addition to sending a message to the people who see you, your physical position can influence your own attitude and mental processes, Gulf News advised. If you're nervous, assume a "power position" shortly before the interview to put yourself in the right mindset. As part of your preparation before interview day, you can practice your posture and gestures so they come naturally.

The entrance
First impressions are formed in a matter of seconds and can set the stage for how your interviewer thinks about you throughout the rest of the interview. Gulf News explained that potential employers will form their initial assessment in the first four seconds. Therefore, it's critical to have a strong, bold entrance. Start off with a firm handshake and look your interviewer in the eye. For video interviews, the "digital handshake" is all about confident eye contact and the camera angle, The Daily Muse suggested. In all cases, a friendly smile also helps convey that you're a warm, open person and who is not intimidated by the discussion ahead.

When standing, adopt an open stance that conveys your confidence, Gulf News added. Avoid standing with your ankles crossed or other positions that diminish your physical space.

During the interview
When you take a seat, pay attention to your posture to ensure it portrays the right message. CareerBuilder warned against fidgeting, rocking back in your chair, rubbing the back of your head or neck, folding your arms and touching your nose. These actions can make you seem disinterested or even give your interviewer the impression that you're dishonest, the source explained. Instead, you should sit up straight or lean slightly forward to indicate your interest in the conversation. Keep an appropriate amount of personal space between yourself and others in the room and be sure to look each person in the eye if you have more than one interviewer.

Interviews can go awry when candidates react to their recruiters' nonverbal signals, according to Sudol. Snap judgments about the meaning of facial expressions can make you nervous or unsettled, so  you should practice remaining calm even if your interviewer appears unimpressed or disinterested. Sudol suggested telling yourself that the interviewer's face is not about you. Even if it is, reacting adversely to a less-than-pleasant expression will only further derail your IT career prospects.

During phone and video interviews, your body language still carries significant weight. CareerBuilder recommended standing up and smiling during phone interviews, as this affects your voice and impacts your mindset. Similarly, The Daily Muse attested to the value of leaning forward and maintaining the right amount of motion during video interviews. You shouldn't be motionless or your interviewer might think the screen has frozen, but you should avoid excessive movements that could be distracting.

Ending on a strong note
End your interview with another confident handshake, even if the discussion rattled you at times. CareerBuilder explained that making a graceful, controlled departure can show your recruiter that you're a good addition to the company. In other words, save the celebration or breakdown for when you're safely in your car. Your potential employer and colleagues may still be observing you as you leave the building, so you want to maintain a professional presence at all times.

Blog Archive