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Body language in an interview

An important thing to be aware of in an interview is what your body language says about you. In everyday life you will act excited when you’re excited, speak when you naturally have something to say and smile when you are feeling happy. In a job interview suddenly you are conscious of everything that you are doing, aware of what you are saying and because of the importance and a mix of less experience your nerves can make you come across in an unnatural way. To combat this it can be worthwhile having an understanding of body language and ensure that you are presenting yourself in a way that truly reflects your enthusiasm for the potential broker role on offer.

Before you say a word the interviewer will have already started assessing you. Did you walk into the room confidently, smile and look at everyone in the room or were you nervous head down focused on sitting into the chair provided? When it’s said out loud it is obvious which person you want to be but when you are thinking about the task ahead and running back over some of the things you have practiced the basics that you would never think about in everyday life as you do them automatically could end up going out of the window and stopping you from presenting who you are.

We’re not suggesting that this in any way trumps what you say in the interview which of course is crucial but if you’re hunched over staring at a blank space on the table saying how excited you are about the trainee junior broker role on offer the interviewer is going to worry about just how enthusiastic you are.

Tips to help you master your body language and get the right message across:

First impressions do count

You’re focused, keen to speak to the person you’ve been told to ask for and get your interview underway but remember there are many more people than that person who work for the company and even people who you will never report to or work with may have an opinion on you. It is important to be polite to everyone you come across on your way to the interview, that lady running for the lift as the doors shut may well be the area manager so for the sake of 30 seconds difference to your arrival it may well be the best thing you can do to stick your foot in the doors and allow them to open for her. Whether it’s in the lift, in the reception area, or even in the toilets. There may well be someone who after your interview, will say to your interviewer “how was that? I met him/her in the lift and he/she came across well”

Always look ready and prepared, not flustered or rushed. Be friendly and approachable, smile and make eye contact when you meet someone, and give a firm but not forceful handshake. It’s important to make sure you grab the hand properly but once done ensure you look that person in the eye as you are greeted.

Be Confident

Walk in and stand or sit with good posture as it relates directly back to people’s perception of high confidence. Don’t be afraid to look around the room, at people working and take it all in. Imagine yourself as part of this environment and team. Don’t stare at any particular area for too long as you’ll make people feel uncomfortable whilst they work but don’t feel as though you have to look at the floor either. It can be tempting to pull out your phone to entertain yourself and give yourself something to focus on but ideally you want to try and come across as comfortable but ready to be met for the interview.

Being expressive and giving gestures will really help you to feel more comfortable whilst also opening up your posture and allowing you to relax. It will help to stop you from being shrunken in and tight, shoulders hunched and neck tilted with your head facing downwards will create a very monotone, unexciting and possibly forgettable interview. Whereas gesturing with open palms is an instant way to show you are calm, assertive and confident. You’ll create a two way dialect where you both feel more engaged and your interviewer will buy into the confidence you are showing and in-turn have more confidence in you.

Show an interest in the business

Demonstrate you are listening to the questions and to the information about the role and the organisation. Engage with the interviewer don’t just answer their questions, lean forward, use your body, hands and facial expressions to show you are genuinely interested. Interviews can end up as a game of cat and mouse where you are plotting your next move and answer before the interviewer has even finished their point. You’ve prepared, you are ready, you know what you are going to say so make sure you take the time to listen properly and take in what the interviewer is saying.

Ensure that you keep good eye contact it should be around about 65-70% when conversing, and a little more when you are listening. Don’t try to keep yourself to these percentages, just be aware that you are giving eye contact but you’re not staring as it can be intimidating and little to none at all can come across as aloof and lacking interest.

Demonstrate energy, positivity and enthusiasm

Use your hands and body movement to emphasise and animate your points and project a dynamic presence. You do not want to deliver your answers in a monotone voice or frozen still. You don’t want to overdo your hand gestures but the issue you have is that prior to these unique circumstances you are naturally doing these things in everyday life and you want to ensure under pressure you are still coming across naturally or possibly with more confidence than usual.

Make sure that you show passion and belief in your achievements and views. Don’t say that you really enjoy speaking to customers and clients, straight faced staring at the floor as it just won’t sound like you do. Remember it is just as much about the way you say it as what you actually say to show your enthusiasm and excitement about the role you are interviewing for.

As well as having your own body language mastered, the next level is to take notice of how your interviewers are also behaving. Are they confused, bored, agitated or genuinely entertained showing that they are alert and interested in what you have to say. Read their non-verbal cues and adapt your responses accordingly and you will make their job easier and demonstrate yourself to be a skilled communicator. Nod and smile to show you understand and subtly try mirroring the interviewer’s posture and pose. This builds rapport and empathy. Again in everyday life two people sharing common views and engaged in a conversation will tend to mirror each other so recreating this helps you to bond to a certain degree. Do of course remember that some interviewers are purposely being stand offish to put you under pressure and see how you deal with being uncomfortable so don’t spend all your time trying to work out why they are so closed, accept that it is their style and at least now you can be comfortable knowing what it is they are doing and ensure you come across calm and confident to them.

Help ensure your body language doesn’t show a nervous you

You can’t necessarily stop all of the nervous looking behaviours that your body produces, even if an antiperspirant advert on TV suggests that you can. You can however countermeasure them with confident traits and actions.  If you choose to perform the behaviours of a confident person, even when you don’t feel it, your interviewer is more likely to buy in to these triggers of confidence and in-turn will be more likely to buy into what you are saying as the text will match the picture.

We all know the stereotypical nervous behaviour of leg shaking, hair playing, pen clicking, teeth sucking or nervously watching the clock, which unfortunately can all grate on an individual witnessing them rather than attract empathy for nervousness. It’s getting a balance in the spectrum of where you want to be. One end is your poker face and no emotion showing no interest in the role and at the other end is too much energy creating you to fidget and bounce about because you are so excited about the opportunity at hand. If you’re not 100% sure of where the perfect line in the sand is for you then try to ensure that you do raise the excitement levels and bring them back down so that the interviewer can get a version of you that they can connect to and ultimately develop that version of you. At this stage when interviewing for graduate and trainee junior broker roles, all interviewees will be looking to mould applicants and progress with them but need to see something that they believe they can work with.

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