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Jamie’s Journey: Improve your body language

Internationally renowned body language expert India Ford explains her seven steps to interview success.

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Research shows that an interviewer will decide within seven seconds whether or not someone is right for a role. In those moments, their levels of confidence, competence and trustworthiness will all be evaluated subconsciously.

How you present yourself is crucial. In every face-to-face interaction, 93% of our communication is delivered non-verbally. A candidate may have spent weeks crafting the right responses, but if their body language is sending negative signals, those carefully chosen words will have very little impact.

Jamie met with India Ford from Talk Body Language, an internationally renowned body language expert to find out how to make his body language work for him, and get him on the path to interview success. We’ve shared her tips below, so that you can be ready for your next interview.

Navigate the opening minutes

Your interview starts as soon as you arrive. You never know who might be watching. What if the person you bump into in reception is the person interviewing you, or even the CEO? It’s essential to act professionally at all times.

Always be nice to the receptionist. Employers will often ask their opinion of interview candidates. Smile, and don’t be afraid of a little polite banter. Plus, if you get the job, you’ll be seeing them every day.

While you’re waiting, read the company literature to show your interest in your potential employer. Looking at your phone will make you appear unprofessional and distracted.

Stand up as soon as you see your interviewer approaching – don’t wait for them to reach you. Standing up to greet someone is a sign of respect and will earn you brownie points.

When it comes to belongings, less is more. Don’t pack for a day trip, and if you do have extra things, such as a raincoat or umbrella, ask the receptionist if there is somewhere to leave it. Having too much stuff makes you appear disorganised and unprofessional.

Don’t be a slouch

Maintain good posture to project confidence, credibility and positive energy. Keep your shoulders back and down (imagine squeezing an orange between your shoulder blades), and keep your chin parallel to the floor and your head vertical as you walk. Your posture is the secret weapon to help you project the traits employers are looking for.

When standing, keep your feet hip width apart, pointing your toes towards the other person. This ensures your entire body is open and angled towards them, which is great for building rapport.

Practice your posture and stance in front of a mirror. Better to look ridiculous alone than in front of your potential boss!

slouch (2)

Try this hands-on advice

Always ensure your hands are visible. Avoid putting them into your pockets or behind your back. When we can’t see someone’s hands, we are hardwired to become suspicious. Visible hands sends a signal of trustworthiness, that you have nothing to hide.

Stand with your hands comfortably at your side, with the fingers slightly curled inwards (splayed fingers are never a good look when you’re standing or sitting!)

Get your handshake right. The handshake is powerful and rich with symbolic significance. It sends an important message of your levels of confidence and energy, and is great for building rapport. No wet fish or knuckle busters! Ensure you hold your palm vertically, ready to make palm-to-palm contact. Match the firmness of the other person’s grip. If their handshake is gentle, respond in kind. A death grip isn’t going to impress and will immediately ruin your rapport.

As you shake hands, smile, keep your head vertical and make eye contact, sending a powerful signal of confidence and credibility. This will help with creating that all important rapport.

Shake their hand two or three times. Any more and you’ll look like a Japanese waving cat.

hand-on (2)

Time your smiles

Smile, but not too much. A smile projects warmth and friendliness and is essential to connect, but be wary of smiling excessively like a 70s game show host. It will make you seem submissive and desperate for the job, and your credibility will take a nosedive.

There are a few key moments when a smile is best. The most important times to flash that grin are at first greeting, when talking about your achievements, when your interviewer makes a joke (no matter how bad it is) and when you say goodbye.

You don’t need to show teeth, just a gentle smile will be enough to project warmth and confidence.

Check that your teeth are clean and food-free. It’s distracting, and no one wants to know about the stress-croissant you ate before you arrived.


Read these articles to follow Jamie on his jobseeker journey:

Meet the contenders: The 5 runners-up reveal their stories.
Claude Littner’s top 5 interview tips: The Apprentice star gives top interview advice.
Career coaching: Aimee Bateman helps Jamie plan for his career.
CV makeover: Jamie gets his CV rewritten by the experts at CV Knowhow
Understanding HR jobs: The totaljobs HR team give Jamie an insight into the sector.
Finding the right fit: Jamie tries the Good&Co app to find out more about himself.
Visiting a law firm: Linda Farrell gives Jamie advice about embarking on a law career.
Jamie is hired!: Learn more about Jamie’s new role at fashion label Finery.
The Prince’s Trust workshop: What did young jobseekers think of Jamie’s journey?

Have a seat

Sit up straight. Your default sitting position should be your shoulders back and down with your back touching the chair. Keep both your feet hip width apart and planted firmly on the floor in front of you. This will stop you from slouching and appearing lazy and low energy. Place your hands either on the table in front of you, on your lap or on the arms of the chair.

Don’t lean too far back. Instead lean very slightly forward at your waist, towards the interviewer. This subtle gesture shows you’re interested, open and engaged in the conversation.

Be aware of what your feet and legs are doing under the table. Nerves can cause you to fidget under the table. You may think no one will notice but if you’re performing Riverdance with your lower half, your entire upper body and shoulders will shake and give the game away.


Look into my eyes

Steady eye contact is vital. Effective eye contact isn’t looking at just one eye, nor is it staring unflinchingly. And it’s certainly not avoiding eyes altogether, which sends negative signals such as a lack of confidence, disinterest and even deceit! It’s crucial you utilise your most powerful connecting gesture to project confidence, credibility, sincerity and trustworthiness – all traits employers looking for in an employee.

When meeting someone for the first time, look at their eye colour – you don’t have to remember it, just notice it. This will build an immediate connection and project real confidence, credibility and help build your rapport.

When talking and listening, look at both eyes. Here’s a tip to make it easier: Imagine there’s an invisible triangle on the other person’s face. The base of the triangle is sitting just below their eyes and the apex is on their forehead.

Look for three seconds at one eye and then at the other, and then look to the side for two seconds to pause. All this should be done in an easy rotation. (You shouldn’t look like you’re watching Murray at Wimbledon!) Keep your gaze within this triangle and you’re golden.

Avoid gazing away. Looking up gives the impression you’re struggling for answers and avoid looking down as this will make you look shifty. As mentioned above, when you do need to pause to look away, ensure you always look to the side, and never down or up.

Maintain eye contact when you’re talking about something important. Do it until the end of your sentence – this will add weight to your verbal content.


Watch out for that invisible wall

Creating barriers with your body could unintentionally undercut your credibility, as will performing self-pacifying behaviours when you’re nervous.

Keep your hands away from your face and neck. Touching this area signifies high stress and deceit. Don’t do it!

Instead, use your hands to gesture and punctuate your speech to add emphasis to important points you want to make.

Ensure your gestures are never above your shoulders, however, as it will make you look erratic – always gesture around your waist area to project confidence, credibility and authority.

Keep your hands in front of you, on your lap, the table or the arms of your chair. (Remember, visible hands demonstrate that you have nothing to hide.)

Avoid crossing your arms or holding objects in front of you, including coffee cups and files. Placing objects in front of your torso creates an invisible barrier between you and the interviewer, and are always a block to building rapport. We create barriers when feeling stressed, insecure and vulnerable – not the traits employers are looking for!


Jamie’s verdict

How did you find the session with India?

It was incredibly useful and eye-opening. You hear about body language and think it’s as simple as remembering to not cross your arms… But there is an incredible amount of subtle cues that go into the first impressions an employer has of you.

What feedback did India give you?

When I’m sitting down I can give off an air of arrogance with my posture, but when I’m standing I can come across as submissive. India also told me that I’m a natural smiler, and while that’s great in an interview, too much smiling makes you seem desperate.

What aspects of your body language will you be working on?

I need to inject a bit more confidence into my standing posture and remove a little confidence from my sitting posture. I’m going to work on striking a balance.

How important do you feel presentation is for an interview?

I think presentation is incredibly important. We are all pretty aware that how we dress makes an impact, but how we hold ourselves can be just as important. It sounds like a lot to remember, but if practiced it just becomes part of who you are.

Jamie’s hired! #MillionPoundJamie has landed his ideal job at the online clothing brand Finery. He’s started in a customer experience and office support role at the exciting start-up. Nice one Jamie!

Find out more about Jamie’s amazing journey and watch all the videos!

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(All comments have to be approved before they appear)

  1. Chris Riordan Saturday, 24 Sep, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Found the video fantastic with tips. Would love to see more videos

  2. Tim Spence Saturday, 24 Sep, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    All good advice! But how do you go about getting an interview in the first place?

  3. gopalkrishnan Saturday, 24 Sep, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    This article is very important information for job seekers,sales people and senior level people who is meeting new people.i enjoyed the body language Technic in my life.

  4. d morgan Sunday, 25 Sep, 2016 at 12:26 am

    BOBY LANGUAGE, well as an older job seeker, I find that if your info is correct. My grey hair gives away age and as most of the interviews I have attended are carried out by kids I could of fathered, or grand kids.
    You know that they are looking for hip cool infit to sit in the same strata as they are, be it work or play.Ability skills and knowledge count for sod all.

  5. Charles Morgan Monday, 26 Sep, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Studies in the U.S.A. have found that candidates who interview on a Tuesday at 10.30 am do alot better than candidates at other times in getting a job offer. Nice article about body language too.

  6. M Rowe Monday, 26 Sep, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Very useful tips that reinforce what should be common sense behaviour and activity for anyone that has sufficiently prepared and researched for an interview and conscious of their behaviour and persona.

  7. James Dewitt Sunday, 30 Oct, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Will you stop perpetuating this ridiculous 93% of communication is non verbal myth.
    Here is an interview with the researcher who created the data this myth is based on

    listen from 23 minutes.

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