Can body language and position impact the interview?
Body language always conveys meaning and impacts all interactions and the college interview is no exception.
One amazing observation I have made over the years I was an interviewer is that when a student is describing something (using adjectives, action verbs, jargon, quotations, proper nouns) that they are excited about, they make perfect eye contact and are confident. When they are being self-congratulatory or BSing (pardon my bluntness), they literally start to look into space for words.
This is all to say that body language is almost always the result of the content of what you say in an interview. If you are focused on describing something you did, body language and position takes care of itself.
For more tips on the interview, incidentally, I made an iPhone app where you can practice at entoview.com.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who was fiddling with her phone or staring off into space? How did that make you feel? How you present yourself, that is what you wear, how you carry yourself, how you sit, whether you establish eye contact are all as important as what you actually say. You should sit up straight and make eye contact with your interviewer to show that you are focused and interested in what she is saying. You should dress well to show that you take the process seriously. Showing up in ripped jeans and a sloppy shirt suggests you don’t think the interview is important and you just threw something on. A firm handshake is always a nice touch too!
Body language and carriage are revealing in all social encounters – one-to-one personal relationships – both formal and casual, group occasions, job interviews, and yes, the college interview. The people with whom you’re interacting form impressions of you, either consciously or subconsciously, based on the body language you exhibit.
Basic considerations (not just related to body language):1. Shake hands with the interviewer firmly upon arriving and departing. I live in Germany, and maybe this is more of a European custom, but it does make a good impression.2. Make eye contact. It’s not a staring contest, but making eye contact is a good way to “connect” with another person, in this case, the interviewer.3. Have a pleasant and alert expression on your face. Remember that the conversation will center around your favorite subject – YOU, so relax and enjoy it!4. Use your hands expressively when appropriate, but overdoing it could be quite distracting. Rest your hands quietly in your lap or on the arms of your chair when not using them for a gesture. It will give a much more self-assured impression and will, hopefully, have a calming effect on you.5. Hold your body in a comfortable upright position when both standing and sitting (good posture). You want to be at ease, but being too relaxed could make you appear disinterested and sloppy.6. Don’t forget to breathe naturally. You will probably be a bit nervous, but controlled breathing can help to minimize that tension. It will also slow you down and keep you from babbling when you’re answering the interviewer’s questions.7. Take a moment to think about each question posed, and consider your answers carefully. Don’t start talking before you know what you want to say.8. When the interview is concluded, thank the interviewer for taking time to see you, while making eye contact and smiling pleasantly. This would be the time for the farewell handshake.
Yes absolutely. Although an admissions person attempts to account for maturity levelduring the admit process, your gestures/body language speaks as loudly as your words. They might “contradict” your verbal message. Or they may simply be a distraction.
I have my students practice answering questions in front of the mirror, before they are ready to rehearse with parents or me.
Advice: keep hands clasped in lap unless you “talk” with your hands. Especially keep hands away from ears, nose, face, hair, etc.
Certainly. You don’t want to sit hunched, chewing your nails and never making contact with the interviewer, that gives a very poor impression. Do not use too much slang, no curse words, and smile! Seat yourself in a comfortable, but appropriate, position which shows confidence and ease.
Yes, because they can influence the interviewer’s and in turn the school’s impression of who you are. Never forget that regardless of the nature of the interview, it is a forum that offers an opportunity for an applicant to make a good impression, and how you present yourself in all ways–physically, intellectually, emotionally, and symbolically–impacts that impression. If you are overly informal, unable to make eye contact, or inattentive, you will be sending messages, however unintentionally, about yourself and your thoughts about the school, and all of it will be added to what they already know. Given the many substantive things that you offer in the application process, you do not want to allow a bunch of small, controllable things to intrude.
Yes, as someone who has conducted college interviews many times I can attest that body language and position impact the interview. It is important to seem interested in the interview and the questions being asked. Your body language has the potential to send what may seem like a minor signal but things like leaning forward, nodding, or smiling can show that you are more engaged in the conversation and leave a positive impression. On the other hand avoiding eye contact, leaning back, or crossing your arms may leave the impression that you are nervous or unhappy with the conversation. The interviewer wants to feel like the interviewee is invested in the interview and is paying attention.
Absolutely! I’ve been doing interview prep for years, and crossing one’s arms is a no no! Eye contact is of utmost importance, and answering questions succinctly is also a must. If a question calls for a yes or a no – don’t elaborate!
Here’s my favorite question to ask, but only if the interviewer is an alum. “What’s the one thing you’re sorry you didn’t take advantage of when you were a student, and that I must absolutely avail myself of? You have no idea how far that can get you. By the way, do you know the 3 things you MUST bring to every interview?
They say that first impressions are important and they are created in the first few minutes of the interview. So watch your nonverbal communication – try to relax and listen to your interviewer, rephrase the question to gain time and compose your thoughts.
Think back to a time when you were watching someone sitting on a chair who was angry, board, tired or not paying attention. What did their body language look like that let you guess how the person was feeling. Yes, body language matters. Take a few moments at home to sit in different chairs and practice looking neutral and then interested. Make sure that you are not bent over into a human C or crossing your arms in front of you. If you feel the need to cross then cross your legs. Please make eye contact. If your eyes drift from your interviewer or if you need to take a break ask the interviewer a question.
Definitely! When you first meet the interviewer, give him/her a firm handshake and a warm smile. Make direct eye contact. If you feel nervous, take a deep breath and then admit it. “I’m sorry, these interviews always make me feel nervous!” Laugh with the interviewer over it. If he or she is a college alumn in your area conducting interviewers, he/she may also feel nervous! Clearing the air will help dispel your nerves and create a more comfortable atmosphere for the rest of the interview.
Your body language can definitely send a message to the interviewer. Are you slouched in the chair, appearing bored by the whole experience? Are you squirming in your seat because you failed to prepare responses to the typical questions? Are you making eye contact and sitting up straight because you take this interview seriously? You don’t have to wear the power suit to pull off the perfect interview. Please, just be neat and clean, no butts bellies or boobs showing to distract the interviewer.
Oh yes, but if you are asking this question, you already know the answer. This is your chance to make a good impression. If you are slouching in the chair and hiding inside your hoody then you are not making a very good one! Look the interviewer directly in the eyes when you are introducing yourself and offer your hand. Speak clearly and confidentially and show that you are interested in the conversation (and not there because your parents made you go.) Thank her for meeting with you and giving up her afternoon (or morning).
Body language and position can absolutely impact the interview! Even the most eloquent and intelligent responses would be derailed by a slumping posture that says “I just don’t care.” To start, greet your interviewer with a firm (but not too strong!) handshake. Nothing is worse than the “dead fish” limp handshake! When asked to sit, don’t slouch back or get too comfortable. Sit upright & attentively – if anything, lean slightly forward toward your interviewer. This will indicate you are interested in the conversation! Lastly, make eye contact with your interviewer! If you are fidgeting with your hair, piece of clothing or other object, or looking anywhere but at the person you are speaking with, the interviewer is bound to believe you are uninterested, lack confidence, or both. In summary – practice your handshake, stand tall, and make eye contact!
Your body language often speaks more loudly than your words, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what it might be saying during your interview. An interviewer can spot an uninterested student very quickly by the way in which they are sitting during the interview. If a student is slouching, fiddling with something, not making eye contact or sitting with their arms crossed, the interviewer may feel as if the student would rather be anywhere else but in their office. However, these types of body language are also descriptive of someone who may be nervous or shy, so it’s important to be cognizant of these types of signals and make adjustments as needed. You want to make sure your interviewer can recognize your genuine interest in their school, not your interest in what’s happening outside their office window.
Body Language speaks volumes, therefore come to the interview with a professional stance, demeanor and language. An appropriate handshake,, sitting tall and communicating effectivly verbally makes a great impact on the interview. Additionally, being prepared by having studied the institution is also quite important, going into any interview unprepared may impact the outcome.
I hear different stats to the effect of 90% of all communication is non-verbal, sometimes 75% 80%. Bottom line is A LOT of communication is non-verbal. This includes your tone of voice, posture, eye contact, fidgeting/lack of fidgeting. This is true of any interpersonal interaction.An interview is similar to a first date in that you want to exude confidence to the other person.
In American culture, eye contact is of big importance. So is a firm handshake. You don’t have to crush the other person’s hand, but have a good squeeze in when you shake someone’s hand, especially if you are female. If you avoid eye contact, it portrays discomfort and insecurity as does fidgeting.
If you have played sports before, sometimes coaches review game tape with you. It is not a bad idea to practice an interview with a friend or adult, and review the footage of your response in the interview. This is extremely helpful..
Definitely. Always make eye contact and sit up straight. I heard a funny story about an interviewee who was so nervous that she kept swinging her foot until her shoe flew off and hit the admissions officer’s desk lamp, breaking it. They laughed about it and she was actually admitted. So remember this and realize that you should relax and be yourself!
Watch your body language.
Regardless of how brilliant your answers to your interviewer’s questions may be, your posture and body language speak volumes. This means that it’s important to sit up straight (it helps to sit at the edge of your chair), avoid crossing your arms (this can give an impression of standoffishness), and to cross your ankles.
If you’re feeling super-advanced, you can try “mirroring,” which is a technique wherein individuals subtly copy the body postures of their interviewers as a way to make them feel more comfortable. However, it’s best to use mirroring sparingly, or else your interview might end up looking like an awkward game of “Simon Says.”
Another technique, used by expert public speaker and pollster Frank Lantz, is to sit at the edge of your chair and strategically lean in towards your interview (not too close) while emphasizing a point you think it’s important for your interviewer to notice. However, the “lean-in” technique should be used, at maximum, twice in an interview.
if you consider yourself inexperienced with interviews, you should consider mock interview practice with counselor or someone else. a theme song may not help you at all if you need the skills to be competitive.
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When I interview students for a college, the last thing I want to see is a student who is slumped over and bored. His body language tells me that he’s really not interested in the college. Maybe he’s just applying because his parents have forced him. On the flip side, if a student sits up straight and looks me in the eye and is positive, I’m going to believe that they really want to be accepted to the college and that I should take them seriously as a candidate.
Absolutely. We are all social creatures, and we respond to each other in ways that are not always conscious. If you sit back with your arms wrapped around you and your coat still on and never make eye contact, I know it’s going to be a tough interview. If your interviewer sits that way, then you have your work cut out for you. My best advice is to relax. Don’t try to game it, don’t try to figure out what the “right” answer is, and don’t worry that it will make or break your application. The interview is often more for your benefit than the college’s, but even if it is evaluative, this is just a chance to put a face and personality to your application. Your interviewer may be as nervous as you are. Read their body language, and try to bring them out. Ask them questions, and show interest in what they have to say. Lean forward, smile, make eye contact. So in short, try to enjoy your interview!
Each of us has a physical habit that reveals itself most when we are nervous (as you are bound to be for at least some part of every interview you’ll ever have). You might be a hair twirler or a nail biter or a leg swinger, but whatever it is, you don’t want to do it in your college interviews for fear that you will distract your interviewers (or have them worry about the germs that are now all over your hands!). The good news is that you can solve this problem in two simple steps. Step One: identify your nervous habit (if you don’t already know what it is, ask anyone who knows you). Step Two: find something else to do with that part of your body during an interview or any time you need to put your most professional self forward. Hair twirler? Pull your hair back and into a bun. Finger nibbler? Apply lotion to both soften the rough skin that you can’t resist and make your hands taste bad. Leg swinger? Cross your legs at the ankle instead of the knee. Now the focus will be on you and the questions you ask and the answers you share – not your annoying nervous habit!
Body position and body language affect all sorts of human interactions everyday and an interview is no exception.
Rather than thinking specifically about how to position yourself and your body parts — just try taking a few deep breaths to relax and SMILE. This can be helpful is putting you and your interviewer at ease!
One time, I had a student cross the room, sit on the floor, and look up at my face to answer an interview question – really! I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone! It’s easy for me to say, but of course body language and body positioning are important. It’s good advice for any prospective college student to sit with shoulders back and try to smile, relaxing the body, but to stay on task and full of energy at the same time. I do cut some students more slack than I would a prospective employee; after all some students who interview are still rather young. However, with the resources readily available to prep for interviews – for example, there are great mock interviews on YouTube – a student should know how to act in the interview before experiencing it firsthand. That said, a student will improve with every interview.
Yes, your body language speaks volumes about you and your level of interest. Remember that your face is part of your body and you might be saying one thing, but you face might be saying something else. Sit up straight and be polite….I guess what our mom’s told us was true!
Want to increase your clarity and confidence? While it may sound unusual, make sure you’re standing up during a call to set up the interview or during the interview itself. Standing enables you to open up your diaphragm, so your voice sounds confident. It will also add a touch of professionalism and, perhaps, even a sense of control or power, which can soothe your nerves. If you are at home, get dressed for the call. The interview done in your PJs may end up sounding a tad too relaxed.
Definitely! Waiting room chairs and sofas are there to provide a comfortable, usually over-cushioned spot for the visitor to rest while waiting. Many people “settle” or seek refuge in the furniture. You may be nervous. If so, you may go further and further back into the chair or sofa, perhaps using is as a “cave” to comfort or protect you while you wait. If you are interviewing, you’ll discover that standing up to greet someone when they arrive can be a less than graceful fluid motion as you may have to “hoist” yourself from deep inside the cushioned seat. Also, you start out “below” the other person, rather than as their equal.
Stand up for yourself! When you are waiting for an interview, whether it is in an office, a coffee shop, or a restaurant, keep standing. It shows respect. In an office situation look at any art on the walls, talk with the receptionist (if they are not busy) or even stand as you look at the magazines, annual reports, etc. If you stay standing, you are using more energy than you do sitting, and you might be less nervous when you actually meet the person. Watch out for body swaying, side to side rocking, weight shifting or foot tapping, if you tend to “leak” energy in those disconcerting methods. If the coffee shop or restaurant is crowded or you are otherwise encouraged to wait sitting at a table, sit facing the door, so you can spot the other person and stand up immediately. Stay standing until you shake hands and the other person sits down.
Body language speaks loud and clear. Experienced interviewers have come to see patterns in people and make decisions based upon all information available. You will tell the interviewer lots about you by the way you hold yourself and the way you position your body. To ensure a best impression, practice with someone in a mock interview setting. Practice different postures and talk about the difference. When you are comfortable with it, video yourself and evaluate it. You may be surprised at the information you are sending without knowing it.
Although I have no statistical research about how much body language affects a college interview, I can reference the work of UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Albert Mehrabian. Dr. Mehrabian’s research suggest that nonverbal behaviors are extremely critical in communication. In fact, this research states that body language is the most influential form of communication and that a positive body stance will build trust with others. Thus, a relaxed open and engaged posture will enhance the interview process. I suggest sitting naturally with your arms uncrossed and relaxed. In addition to body language, remember to look the interviewer in the eye. Avoiding eye contact may be suspect with the interviewer. Although nonverbal communication is crucial, remember that positive body language and eye contact will not substitute for content. Yet, it will assist in leaving a positive impression with an alumni interviewer or admission officer.
Here’s my favorite question to ask, but only if the interviewer is an alum. “What’s the one thing you’re sorry you didn’t take advantage of when you were a student that I must absolutely avail myself of?” You have no idea how far that can get you. By the way, do you know the 3 things you MUST bring to every interview?
Absolutely. Constant fidgeting, touching your hair, playing with your clothing, et al, can create an impression of nervousness. Sitting with your legs extended four feet in front of your chair can impose upon your interviewers space and make him or her feel uncomfortable. Shrinking into your chair can make you seem timid.
Sit up straight, look your interviewer in the eye, and be natural. It’s normal to be nervous; a good interviewer will understand that and, hopefully, help you feel more at ease as the conversation continues.
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