Success in an interview isn’t just about what you know or what you’ve done – the way you physically present yourself has a huge impact on how an interviewer will remember you. Albert Mehrabian, expert in nonverbal communication, conducted a study that showed only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through vocal elements like pitch and tone of voice, and 55% through nonverbal elements, so a huge part of the way we are perceived depends on the way we carry ourselves.
To ensure that you make the best impression possible in your next interview, bear these tips in mind.
- Use a firm handshake. When you meet the person interviewing you, demonstrate your confidence by shaking their hand with a firm grip.
- Smile. Don’t concentrate so hard on trying to appear professional that you forget to smile! An important part of your success in an interview depends on how much the interviewer would like to work with you, so smiling projects a positive outlook by making you appear open and friendly.
- Nod at appropriate intervals. If the interviewer is speaking for a long time and you want to keep appearing engaged, don’t interrupt them but nod and make verbal sounds of assent such as 'uh-huh' and 'mm-mm' to show that you’re listening.
- Don’t cross your arms. This is a protective gesture that we do when we’re cold, nervous or on guard, so avoid appearing closed-off by keeping your body language relaxed and open.
- Subtly mirror the interviewer. Mirroring, or assuming the same positions and gestures as someone you’re speaking with, is a great way to build understanding. This happens subconsciously when you’re getting on well with someone, but you can make an effort to mimic your interviewer’s body language to help them feel more connected to you.
- Maintain eye contact. It can be difficult to keep looking someone straight in the eye when you’re nervous, but interviewers notice and appreciate good eye contact, as this demonstrates confidence and engagement in the conversation.
- Sit up straight. This subconsciously makes you feel more confident, allows you to project your voice and helps you appear engaged.
- Include all interviewers. If you’re being interviewed by more than one person, ensure you look at them all when you are answering each question. Even if one person is speaking and another only taking notes, it’s important to involve everyone in the room so that each interviewer will remember you positively.
- Keep your voice at a steady volume. Try not to be too loud or quiet, but don’t let this prevent you from speaking passionately and showing your enthusiasm.
- Leave a good impression. Your interview doesn’t stop when you leave the room – the interviewers will still be assessing you on your way out, so ensure that you keep smiling, holding eye contact and deliver another firm handshake before you say goodbye.