Interview insights - how actions speak louder than words

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Top career coach Carmel Morrissey on how what you don't say in an interview can be more important than what you do.

Remember the old adage “actions speak louder than words"? It's one to remember in an interview situation.

Research has found nonverbal communication can account for up to 55% of a first impression - so your success at interview is not controlled purely by your ability to answer the questions but also your ability to pick up on and demonstrate the correct social cues.

The right body language will allow you to appear as a confident, assertive, friendly, and honest applicant – all the elements that will help you land the job.

DO's and DON'T's

1. Don’t stare:

While it is important to appear confident and interested, staring for an extended amount of time can make the interviewer feel uncomfortable as your behaviour could be seen as aggressive.

2. Do maintain eye contact:

It is however, key to maintain eye contact when shaking hands with someone for the first time as it shows the right level of engagement. A good rule of thumb is to match the amount of eye contact coming from your interviewer to put them at ease.

For a video interview it can be difficult to know how much eye contact to give so remember to look into your webcam to ensure you give enough eye contact.

If you have more than one person interviewing you at once, make sure you briefly address both people with your gaze and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.

3. Do take your cues from the other side of the table:

It's important to see how your interviewers are behaving. Their body language can give you an impression of how you are coming across to them. This can serve as a warning at an early stage that you might be talking for too long or not long enough.

4. Don't cross your arms:

Remember to read their non-verbal cues also. Avoid crossing your arms as this can make you seem defensive and closed which can be off-putting in an interview situation. As a potential employee you need to demonstrate that you are adaptable and open to suggestions. Some candidates find sitting on their hands useful in this situation.

5. Do consider your body posture:

So what should you aim for in terms of body posture? Avoid leaning back in your seat or leaning forward crowding the interviewer, instead aim for sitting up straight in your seat.

6. Don't be all hands:

Also avoid pointing or any dramatic hand gestures as they can be seen as confrontational or aggressive.

7. Do remember to look interested:

Always ensure that you demonstrate your enthusiasm by keeping an interested expression. Nod and make positive gestures in moderation.

8. Smile

Don’t forget to smile as it makes you look more relaxed, comfortable and personable and ultimately more likeable and memorable.

Carmel Morrissey is a Career Coach with Clearview Coaching Group, one of Ireland's leading career coaching consultancies. Email or call 087 6206106 for more information.