Prepping for an interview is strenuous. You need to read up on the organisation, practice for those tricky behavioural interview questions, and really know how to sell yourself. But, in addition to all of this interview prep, you also need to keep in mind what your body language is telling your interviewer.
Research has repeatedly suggested that an individual's body language — and other non-verbal cues such as eye contact — conveys more than what they are actually saying. And this, of course, is something that most people should be considering when prepping for a major job interview, meeting, or presentation.
According to Traci Brown, body language expert and author of Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence, people need to spend some time thinking about what their body language is saying in an interview scenario. "Body language speaks so much more than your words," Brown tells Refinery29. "It’s not only what you say it’s how you say it, so tone and body language are very important."
Ahead, Brown lays out six tips to keep in mind while you're preparing for an interview. She outlines things to try to incorporate and things to avoid in order to ace your next job interview.
3 things to do in a job interview:
1. Lean forward.
Brown admits that this suggestion sounds a bit silly, but says that leaning back during any kind of in-person interaction conveys that you’re not interested or don’t care. Yet another reason to work on your posture, sitting up straight and leaning slightly forward is a great way to show you are engaged. "This sends a huge message — leaning forward is basic rule number one," Brown says.
2. Mind yourself in the waiting room.
The question of when to arrive at a job interview can be a point of contention, with some suggesting you get there early and others cautiously warning not to arrive too early. Brown agrees that arriving too soon can result in you sitting in the waiting room hunched over your phone. "This is probably the most powerless position you can be in," she says. If possible to do without being awkward, Brown recommends being standing when you first meet your interviewer to have your first impression be in an empowered position. "If you can manage doing it where you look elegant, that’s ideal," Brown adds.
3. Mirror your interviewer.
Hear Brown out: The idea of parroting or copying your interview sounds a bit strange. But it's all about subtlety. "It takes some practice, but if you can match their movements without seeming awkward, this is a sophisticated game," Brown says, noting that if you can mirror some of your interviewer's movements a few moments after they make them, it's a way to establish a connection — if you can do it right.
3 things to avoid in an interview:
1. Crossing your arms.
Brown notes that crossing one's arms is a way to feel safe in a potentially nerve-wracking situation. What's more, it can sometimes be challenging to figure out what to do with your hands and arms. But the best thing to do is keep your hands in your lap or on a desk. Whatever you do, try to avoid crossing your arms as doing so can make you seem uninterested or closed off. "You don’t want to signal that, so try to avoid this," Brown says.
2. Not matching eye contact.
Eye contact can be tricky, and Brown says it's important to match the person you are speaking to though this can sometimes present a challenge. "Some people like direct, unflinching eye contact, others don’t," Brown says. "You need to be flexible enough in your behaviour to match what your interviewer is giving out." Brown adds that there isn't a hard and fast rule when it comes to eye contact and so interviewees have to adapt to the situation. "You have to practice matching so you can be good at it and so that it's not uncomfortable," Brown adds.
3. Bouncing your knees or heels.
Nerves have many interesting and sometimes uncontrollable ways of showing up in our bodies. This said, be mindful of your movements and the fact that jitters could actually give off an entirely different message. "Bouncing your knees or heels doesn't send a calm confident message," Brown says. "It says that you want to just get out of there."