Importance of Body Language in
Body language stands out when it comes to interviewing experience. A good and friendly body language gives you an edge over other competitors who might have more attributes than you have, but poor body language.
Employers often informally turn to the terms ‘comfort factor’ or ‘fit’. What this essentially means is an often subjective assessment of how comfortable they are with you, or worse, how much they like you!
So, you have all the skills, experiences, competencies, qualifications and personality traits to meet the needs of the job that you have applied for. Unfortunately, there is a strong likelihood that so have a number of other candidates as well. What, then, is the missing ingredient that will get you the job?
As contradictory to a good selection practice this is, it is, nonetheless, a fact of life and the one you have to live with. The good news is that there are ways of ensuring that you are the candidate they will be most comfortable with. These have been labelled ‘black-belt techniques’, simply because most managers are yet to be trained in these skills. That leaves you with a competitive advantage!
Creating rapport and comfort with the interviewer
Research has found this to be the basis for what makes an excellent communication. Remember that what your body does and how you say things in an interview are part of interview language skills. It helps ensure the interviewer feels comfortable with you and that you are just their sort of person!
Rapport is about respecting the other person’s model of the world. In other words, the ways for ensuring the interviewer think you are just like they are. These skills are now widely used by top sales people and professional negotiators, human resource departments and some caring professions.
We know from research that similarities in people attract each other. Similar people tend to get on, and are comfortable with each other. Rapport is about ensuring that you are just like the interviewer – his/her sort of person. How do you do this? Through the communication process itself! The fundamental foundation of rapport is that research shows communication is made up from three elements in the following proportions:
ü Physiology – 55%
ü Voice – 38%
ü Words – 7%
Imagine you’re looking around at people in a restaurant. Even though you can’t hear what they are saying, you’ll soon notice which ones are in rapport and which ones are not. Where you start to see the same attention levels and a mirror reflection, this is called rapport. The people in rapport are the ones who, without realizing it, follow each other’s movements, gestures and expressions. People in rapport tend to match and mirror each other. This is called ‘pacing’ the other person.
This is a subtle art that can be practiced with everyone you meet until it becomes a natural interaction program. Physiological signs to look out for of rapport between people are:
ü Gestures – British tend to be quite reserved and they will tend to be micro (reserved). It is very important to be comfortable in doing gestures or it will appear that you are making fun of the other person – not good for rapport! If the interviewer uses her/his hands to gesture, do use your hands to gesture when you are explaining. Remember that you must be comfortable doing this.
ü Posture – How people line up their spine when they are seated. This includes the position of their shoulders, head as well as their arms, legs, hands and even their fingers. The lining up of the spine is the most important physiological sign to look out for. If the interviewer sits straight-backed with their arms resting on the table, so should you.
ü Facial expressions – Observe facial expressions and mirror them. If the interviewer has a serious expression, and you sit with a grin on your face, you are then not entering into their world and the communication process is fraught.
As with physiology, you can also pace the other person by the use of your voice. Use similar tone, clarity (enunciating V’s mumbling), and volume. People who talk quickly, like to hear others talking quickly. The beauty of developing rapport with a quick speaker is that you can match his or her pace and gradually slow it down to a more modest speed that becomes acceptable to you both.
Although low down on the scale of importance in physiognomy, there are important things to be aware of:
ü Key words – People have words that they like. If they like them, you should use them so you are talking the same language. Before long, you will be presenting your ideas in a way that they would present your ideas. Never replace their word with one of your own. Effectively you would be taking away from their thoughts. Organizations often develop their own language, and this becomes the norm and natural for all employees. They may not realize that it is their own language. For them to feel that you are just ‘their sort of person’, you need to pick up on these key words and use them back whenever it is appropriated.
ü Common experience – People normally think of rapport as asking questions: “Did you have a good journey?” “Did you find the place alright?” Although only a very small part, it does have a part to play. Get in as early as possible any experiences you may have that are common to their own. This is not for selling yourself. Rather, it is to show that you are ‘their sort of person’.
ü Sensory filters – Our predicate is our own preference for processing information. We take in information through all our senses. Most people, however, have a preference for one or the other. In an interview, for example, the interviewer might say: “I see what you mean”; another might say, “I hear what you’re saying”; and a third might say, “I grasp what you mean”. In this example, the first interviewer has a preference for ‘visual’ processing; the second for ‘auditory’ processing; and, the third for ‘kinaesthetic’ processing (or processing using the feelings).
If you notice which sense the other person speaks with, you can adjust your language accordingly and use their sorts or words.