Body talks: What your body language says about you
Regardless of experience or confidence, a job interview can be a nerve wracking experience for any jobseeker – whether it’s the sleepless nights before going for that all important role or clammy palms once you’re in the hot seat (yes we’ve all enjoyed a wet handshake…).
Whilst naturally all eyes are on the candidate during a job interview, your body language during an interview can play an important role in putting the candidate at ease. After all, in order to get the best out of a candidate in an interview, you want to see the true person, not a bag of nerves. You have questions that need answering and you need to ensure the candidate is in the best position to answer them – not so nervous their speech turns to waffle!
Last month, internationally renowned body language expert India Ford helped to prepare the star of our #MillionPoundJamie campaign for his interviews, offering some great tips and advice (you can read it here). But we thought it would only be fair for recruiters to gain the expert body language advice and tips too. Since 55% of our communication is delivered through body language, India has shared her top five ways in which a recruiter can harness the power of their body language to help smooth the interview process and get the best out of each and every candidate.
Top tip 1: The smile
Who isn’t put more at ease instantly when greeted with a smile? It might sound obvious, but start the interview on the right foot by offering a smile as you meet your potential employee. A smile is a powerful non-verbal signal that says ‘welcome,’ helping to settle nerves and begin the rapport-building process. This doesn’t have to mean a cheesy all-teeth-on-show grin, but a gentle, natural smile will help to break the ice and immediately put the candidate at ease as you approach and introduce yourself.
Top tip 2: Open up by breaking down physical barriers
Be mindful of your approach as you are walking towards the candidate. It’s important to project open and approachable body language, so ensure you are not unconsciously creating barriers in front of your body by folding your arms or placing papers or files in front of you. As you meet the candidate, it’s best if the front of your body is clear of any ‘clutter’ and your arms, files or any other objects are placed at the side of your body.
Once you start sending an ‘open’ message to potential employees, they will naturally begin to feel calmer and in turn, open up to you and be more receptive.
Top tip 3: Personal disclosure
Putting someone under unnecessary pressure right at the beginning of the interview process will do you no favours. It’s always good to begin by asking some fairly light and brief questions to help put them at ease – these could be as simple as ‘Would you like a drink?’ ‘Have you come far?’ ‘How did you hear about this vacancy?’ All too often these simple steps are missed as it can feel unnecessarily mundane, but they are crucial to help you build rapport and settle nerves.
Top tip 4: The default expression
When listening to the candidate’s responses, it’s good for the interviewer to be conscious of how they ‘hold’ their face while they listen. When listening intently, most people start to frown and unconsciously display a very stern and negative facial expression. This can create an uneasy environment and be very off putting to the candidate as it can give the impression the interviewer is not happy with what they’re hearing. Perhaps ask a friend or a trusted colleague if your facial expression has a tendency to fall into that angry, stern looking ‘resting face’.
Top tip 5: Eye contact
Making effective eye contact while the candidate is talking is crucial for projecting respect. So as you ask the questions, listen with respect by making effective eye contact and not multitasking by shuffling papers and avoiding the gaze of your applicant. You don’t want to look as if you’re just going through the motions and are disinterested – the candidate has spent time, money and resources to sit in front of you – so try to offer them the attention they deserve, especially in those all-important first few minutes where you should be building a rapport.
It can help if your full attention is projected towards the candidate when they are speaking. Engaging your eyes and your ears will not only say a lot about you but will also speak volumes about the culture of your company.
Developing good non-verbal behaviours will really help to break down the barriers and create an environment of trust and ease – ultimately creating a win-win situation by improving your chances of selecting the very best candidate.
India Ford is an internationally renowned body language expert. For more information visit