How to Present with Gravitas; Body Language Tips for Interview Success

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Many people have heard that a large part of what we communicate comes from our body language.. maybe as much as 80%! A frightening amount when most of what we do with our body language is subconscious .. we just don't think about how we stand, sit or move.   

So when we have a really important meeting, to an interview where we want success and   want to appear as a serious person who can achieve serious things, how do we behave?

Follow our tips for interview success and present yourself with gravitas

1. Shake hands after the interviewer has offered theirs to you. This implies deference. A firm clear handshake, but not for too long.

2. If you need to shut the door, do it without turning your back on the panel, and then sit down without turning away. Take your outdoor coat off before you go in and then if you must remove a suit jacket ask if you may.  Don't be casual or look too at home, it looks over familiar and unprofessional.

3. Smile while you shake and make eye contact, you may not be happy to be in a job interview, but think of someplace you would like to be, or something you would like to be doing,  that will bring a genuine smile to your eyes!

4. When you sit down, make sure your chair is where you want it to be first. Sit square to the interviewer so that you don't have to twist in the chair to see them.

5. Sit up straight, with your back against the seat (unless this means your feet dangle). This can be hard if you are tall as you won’t want to dominate them but better that than a slouching, lounging.  

6. Sit still, allowing your foot to tap will betray anxiety, shuffling around in the chair can make you appear as if you lack self awareness and self control. Slouching can make you look too casual or even worse slovenly. If you have taken in your CV, make sure you don't fiddle with it or with the paperclip. Try to be reasonably still. It’s OK to lean forward to emphasise a point or tilt your head;  just try not to jitter.

7. Put your hands in your lap if there is no table and on the table if there is. Use them for emphasis only. No pointing as this appears aggressive. No arm crossing as this appears defensive. No hands in pockets.

8. Cross your legs once, at the calves, not across the knees, crossing them across the thigh looks arrogant and at the ankles looks prissy and tucking them under the chair looks like you have something to hide.

9. Engage with all of a panel. In western cultures: look everyone  in the eye, not just the person who is asking the questions, everyone in the room is listening. And sometimes the most important person may decide not to ask any questions.  Be particularly careful to engage with women, people with disabilities or from other racial groups.

10. Stay in control of your facial expressions, even if the question is a tough, beware of eye rolling, frowning, pulling back to indicate dislike.  

11. Keep your behaviour neutral not sexual, no flicking your hair, pursing your lips, licking your lips, tilting your head, holding eye contact too long…. You know how it works!  for professional roles you need to appear like a serious person with a serious brain.  


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