How to make sure your body language and appearance say the right things at the interview

At least 50% of the impression you make in your job interview will be the result of your appearance and body language. It’s not so much the great answers which you have prepared to possible interview questions that get you across the line; it’s how you look and how you behave.

Yet if you focus too much on body language during the interview, you are likely to lose sight of the main ball and, as a result, wreck your chances of success.

So what should you do? The answer is not all that difficult – although it does require preparatory work.

First, your appearance. Visit the organisation before the interview. See what people are wearing and dress in a similar manner for the interview. You want to look as if you belong.

Now, body language. There are two factors that will shape your body language without you having to think about it. They are (1) confidence in your ability to do the job, and (2) your enthusiasm for the position.

Let’s take confidence first. To be really confident in your ability to do the job, you need to know a lot about it. Enough to plan your first few weeks in the position. When you plan those first few weeks, you envisage yourself in the position. You see yourself completing the tasks and responsibilities required and, providing that you are applying for a suitable position, this should boost your confidence enormously.

And now enthusiasm. In the excellent book Sweaty Palms: the neglected art of being interviewed, author Anthony Medley writes, ‘Enthusiasm makes an attractive and convincing salesman out of an assortment of dead flesh and bones’. If you are enthusiastic, the employer will want to hire you. And you will be enthusiastic if you know a lot about the job and you can envisage yourself doing the job well and getting job satisfaction.

How do these factors affect your body language? The answer is that if you are genuinely excited by the job and motivated to perform well, and if you are confident in your ability to tackle the challenges of the new position, your body language will show it without you having to think about it. In this situation, your natural body language will be much more convincing than if you are trying too hard to look enthusiastic.

So do your research thoroughly. Plan how you would spend your first few weeks in the position so that you are really confident in your ability to perform the job well and so that you are highly motivated to do so. And, while doing your research, make sure that you notice the dress code so that you look like you already belong when you attend the interview.

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