Some studies have shown that people’s first impressions are made based on only 7% of what you say. It means 93% of first impressions are formed by non-verbal content. Non-verbal content includes things like body language, how you dress, how you conduct yourself and your eye contact.
So, you’ve fronted up to an interview at your dream job, you have prepared detailed, compelling answers for those all-important questions, and planned some incisive questions of your own that are sure to seal the deal, but, selling yourself at an interview doesn’t end with what you’re saying.
From the second you shake hands and sit down, your interviewer is likely to have formed an opinion of you based on body language alone. Though the content of your communication is important, it’s what you don’t say that could be the difference between you and your competition.
This isn’t just limited to the “in-person” interview. Virtual interviews are becoming more and more prevalent, and your interviewer is making assumptions about you even over video call. You need to understand how to show them your best self even when you are not in the same room.
Some of the key non-verbal cues that you can work on prior to turning up for your interview include:
Arriving for an Interview – Physical and Virtual
Make a point of greeting the receptionist, be polite, small talk is ok but don’t be over friendly.
Rather than playing with your phone or listening to music, check over your interview preparation notes or any company materials in the lobby.
Sit straight, don’t slouch and once the interviewer arrives, greet them standing up and shake hands.
During a virtual interview, be careful of what’s visible in the background. Make sure you have adjusted the camera beforehand and there are no glaring lights or objectionable sights in view.
Do not display your strength while shaking hands, at the same time don’t do the dead fish handshake too. A handshake can be a strong first impression, a firm handshake goes a long way.
According to Forbes Magazine, “A good handshake consists of a full and firm handclasp with palms embraced web to web. Shake up and down once or twice, coupled with a sincere smile and eye contact.”
In the world of virtual interviews, make sure your hand gestures are visible and not over the top, and a sincere sign off wave and thank you to all participants.
Maintain reasonable eye contact with everyone in the interview room, even those not talking.
Ensure eye contact is natural and sincere. Staring fixedly at your interviewer can seem creepy or robotic. Listen carefully and smile and nod as appropriate.
Keep an even range tone of voice while you’re talking, and don’t speak too loudly or quietly. If something of your peak interest comes up, do indicate excitement with facial expressions and tone of voice.
Don’t look around or gaze in the distance, especially during a video call. Also, don’t read notes. Interviewers can easily and very obviously make out when you are not focused on the task at hand.
As mention earlier, sit up straight and avoid slouching – you want to appear confident and enthusiastic.
Do relax and lean forward a little towards the interviewer so you appear interested and engaged. Leaning too far back makes you seem relaxed or arrogant.
By smiling and nodding when your interviewer makes a point, they know you’re listening. Use these gestures to punctuate a statement. Smiling and nodding continuously can seem like you’re rushing the interview.
As nervous as we might be, try to avoid any nervous laughter!
Dressing / Appearance
Companies may seem like they’re becoming more casual in dress standards, but that doesn’t mean you should wear jeans to an interview.
Do some research on the company culture to figure out if it’s business casual or business formal – or something in between.
Because you’re being interviewed, you should consider dressing one step above what employees would typically wear. Make sure that your cologne or perfume is not too overpowering, and your breath is fresh.
If your interview is virtual, still dress your best. Interviewers will definitely appreciate and notice it.