How To | Improve Body Language at Interviews

Body language matters, and nowhere does it matter more than in a job interview. Here’s what your body language says about you – and how to improve it.

A shocking 33% of surveyed hiring managers admit they’ve made up their mind if they’re going to hire you within 90 seconds.  

That’s hardly enough time to shake hands and take a seat, let alone discuss your suitability for the role. 

And that’s the problem. If you’re not particularly comfortable in interviews, there’s every chance you’ll be discounted…before you really even get the chance to show how good you are. 

The non-verbal messages you’re sending in your interview could be hampering your career success in the building services sector.  

Why Body Language Matters More than Any Other Interview Factor 

According to longstanding research from UCLA, a staggering 93% of how people feel about what you say has nothing to do with the words you actually use! 

  • A measly 7 % of what an interviewer thinks about what we say is influenced by the words we use.  
  • A further 38 % of how well we are understood or believed is conveyed by the way we say those words- that is, how fast we speak, and our tone, pitch, and volume.  
  • Which leaves 55% of our story left to our body language.

You might be using all the right words, but the interviewer might be ‘hearing’ something different. Your body language tells a story, and it speaks it loudly. But have you ever really thought about what it is?  

So, if you’re a project manager or renewables engineer that is making it through to interviews due to a great CV, but struggles to secure the role ultimately, it’s possible that your non-verbal communication is letting you down.  

Luckily, there are some tried and true ways to improve your non-verbal communication in interviews – some which even rely on brain chemistry to trick yourself into feeling more confident!  

1. Make a strong entrance 

Walk in with shoulders back, eyes up, and walk straight towards the interviewer with a smile. Imagine it’s someone you know and like- you wouldn’t look at the floor if it was would you?   

2. Make sure your handshake is firm (but not a-la-Donald Trump). 

Fairly or not, weak handshakes send all the wrong messages. A limp handshake is very often perceived as indicating a weakness of character, a lack of authority, and shyness. There is even research suggesting that people with weak handshakes are more anxious and shy.  
On the other hand, overly firm handshakes (or even the infamous Trump ‘grab and yank’) will also send a negative image, of being domineering and even bullying- probably not qualities you want to flaunt in an interview.  

But, fear not. It’s straightforward to improve your handshake. Just ask a close friend or family member to rate your handshake and practice for a few days until you get it right.  

3. Maintain good eye contact 

Nervous and/or introverted candidates often struggle to make eye contact in pressure situations, which can leave an unfortunate impression of shiftiness, awkwardness, or un-trustworthiness.  

Eye contact creates a bond with the listener, so it’s super important that you have a good rate of eye contact during the interview.

However (there’s always a however!), staring at them will make the other person uncomfortable, so be sure to break your eye contact regularly.  

Looking away briefly while you thoughtfully formulate an answer is an excellent way to break your gaze, before looking back at the person who asked it when it’s time to answer. 

4. Trick your brain with a confidence-boosting pose 

This one sounds made up, but rather wonderfully, it’s not. Amy Cuddy of Harvard University spent years researching the power of body language to affect our brains, and in so, discovered that you can actually strike ‘power poses’ that trick the brain into releasing testosterone and cortisol, the confidence-boosting hormones.  

Her TED talk on the subject is one of the most watched of all time. The short version is that just before your interview, you should go to the bathroom and stand with your hands on your hips for 2 minutes.

Your brain will release confidence boosting hormones, and you’ll be able to walk into that room with your shoulders straight, and your head held high. See, I told you it sounded made up.  

5. Use your hands 

Everyone fears the interviewer seeing their trembling hands, so many candidates keep their hands in their laps.

Yet this is a really unnatural posture when speaking, and it can lead to a subconscious perception that you’re hiding something or you’re not entirely trustworthy.  

Which is why you need to let those hands be free. Use them when you talk, and you’ll immediately be considered more open, more confident, and more trustworthy.  

Using your hands when you speak will also fend off that other problematic body language tic: the dreaded fidgeting. If you notice yourself fidgeting, take a deep breath and  

6. Smile like you mean it

Being too serious in an interview can negatively affect your chances of success-whether it’s because you just blend into the line-up of candidates, or whether you don’t seem like you’ll be much fun to work with. 

Hiring managers are looking for people to fit in with culture, not just skills on a CV. So don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm and smile about the opportunity you’re being given.  

And remember, many managers find interviews a bit stressful too, so a genuine smile and nodding along while they speak not only shows them you’re listening but also makes them feel more at ease. They’ll be imagining what you’re like to work within no time! 

Ultimately, if you’re facing a building services interview, you should be paying as much attention to the story your body is telling, as you do to the words you’re saying. Believe it or not, the person across from you is.  

About A and D Recruitment 

A&D Recruitment is a vibrant, independent employment agency specialising in Renewable Energy & Building Services sectors. 

Founded by recruitment experts Alessia and Darren Williams, A&D Recruitment has successfully placed candidates in a diverse range of roles over the last 12 years.  

To get in contact call 01743 247774 or email on 

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