Aimee Carmichael, from recruiter Morgan McKinley, explains why posture counts in an interview situation…
As a well-prepared job hunter you’ll no doubt spend some time thinking about how you’ll answer those all-important interview questions, but what you may not realise is that prospective employers will have probably made up their mind about you before you even open your mouth. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of communication is non-verbal. Unfortunately, when we’re in a stressful situation such as a job interview, we often resort to babbling – exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. So if you’re being judged largely on your body language, what can you do to make sure you come across as the ideal candidate? The answer is in your posture.
Here at Morgan McKinley we recently joined forces with respected chiropractor Dr Krishan Ramyead, one of the highest qualified Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) practitioners in the UK, for a webinar on the importance of good posture in professional situations – it revealed some interesting pointers for would-be interviewees. In a nutshell, the shape, position, tension and tone of your spine are in direct relation to the shape, position, tension and tone of your life, or how you’re feeling. Dr Ramyead has observed over 21,000 patients through the course of his work helping clients with various muscular-skeletal problems and has seen a number of key patterns emerge, which has led him to identify a number of postural distortions which become evident when individuals are experiencing certain worries, fears or negative feelings. These in turn manifest themselves in the way people tilt their head, the position of their hips in relation to the rest of their body or how straight they hold their spine.
So, what are most common postures and what are they saying non-verbally to the person in front of you?
Folded arms or legs – this usually sends the message that you are being defensive, suppressing emotions or are not interested in what is being said. Make sure you avoid gripping your upper arm round your back – this can be a sign that you’re controlling yourself from lashing out. Not a good approach for landing that all-important job! Also avoid crossing your leg so one foot rests across the other knee – it’s a sign that you’re securing vulnerable parts of the body from being hurt.
Palms on hips – this can convey that you’re eagerly waiting for something to finish or you’re not actively involved with a particular person or situation.
Looking downwards – if your head or body is bent downwards or you look at the floor all the time, it can be interpreted as a sign that you lack confidence and courage and may mean an interviewer doesn’t take you seriously.
Feet pointing towards the door – don’t forget, we unconsciously point our leg in the direction we want to go, so this could convey that you’re anxious to depart.
So what is the best posture to adopt in an interview situation? Perhaps the ideal approach is to be ‘friendly and fearless’ – when you feel relaxed, friendly, open, confident and sociable, you naturally stand or sit perfectly upright, your hands are parallel to your torso and your palms remain open and visible to others. Dr Ramyead recommends practising the postures you want to convey beforehand and suggests trying to hold a confident posture for two minutes – apparently it tricks the brain into feeling that way. Alternatively, call to mind a time when you felt confidence, strength and perseverance and focus on this feeling as you walk into the interview. Another tip for during the interview is to mirror the posture of your interviewer – this can help increase engagement and build rapport.
Ultimately though, as Dr Ramyead points out, you have to be authentic – what you really need to strive for is to be yourself, but be yourself at your best.
Morgan McKinley’s Success Series webinars and events take place on a monthly basis and aim to enable current and future leaders and specialists to network and learn from experts to further their professional development.
For further information please visit www.morganmckinley.co.uk.