If we asked you whether communication is an important skill to showcase at interview, we suspect you’d say yes.
But have you ever considered that the way you hold yourself and move physically is also a form of communication?
In our extensive experience supporting accountants to find new roles in their profession, we’ve seen it all. And some of the most disappointing feedback we can hear is when an accountant talks the right talk but is let down by body language that communicates a lack of interest or a level of arrogance that the employer can’t handle.
Here’s some examples of body language, some of which you might never have considered analysing in yourself.
- Your facial expressions. This includes those that make you look interested and excited (smiles, wide eyes, authentic looks of contemplation or thought) and those that showcase the opposite (frowns, eye rolls, yawns.)
- Hand gestures. This is a big one that people often don’t know they are guilty of. Flinging your hands around to help articulate a point can be distracting to those you are communicating with. Picking at your cuticles can demonstrate worry or excessive nervousness. Pointing or bekoning with your fingers can be seen as downright rude.
- Overt movements or physical interaction. Aggressively patting someone on the back, clapping or the more recent no no – shaking someone’s hand!
- And finally your poise and the way you hold yourself. If you’re slumping down in your chair you’ll come across as lazy or disinterested. Leaning too far towards your interviewer can come across as intense, shying away the opposite.
We know! Body language is a whole minefield of trouble that you might never have considered looking at!
But don’t panic. self awareness is everything, so the fact that you’re taking a few moments to consider how your body language might be coming across at interview is a huge step in the right direction.
And ever your professional career coaches, we’ve come up with a quick audit of your body language that will ensure you’re looking, as well as sounding, ready to land your dream job.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What does your facial expression say when you meet your interviewer(s). Relax and allow yourself to smile warmly. The most important factor at interview can often be whether the employers consider that they’d personally like to work alongside you (even if that won’t be the case) so make sure your facial expressions mimic those of someone you’d like to work with!
2. What are you doing with your hands? If you can, practice having meaningful conversations with your friends and family with your hands gently resting on your lap, or on the table/desk in front of you. Consider how easy it is to keep them there. If they are itching to fly around, adjust your hair or even worse; point, click or clap, you may have a problem you need to work on.
3. Again with a close friend or family member ask them a deep question. When they’ve talked you through the answer and you’ve actively listened, ask them what they read from your face. If you looked bored (even if you weren’t) you’ll want them to tell you! Were you nodding in the right places to show you were listening? When your interviewer tells you important facts about the firm and the job, they’ll want to know that you’re actively listening.
4. Feeling extremely nervous? You’ll want to know that that’s not coming across in the form of jittery body language. Work on keeping your hands and feet still and managing how fidgety you are. Avoid caffeine and sugar before your interview and practice some breathing techniques to help you feel calm.
5. Finally, how is your posture? This is a brilliant challenge to work on regardless of whether you’re in an interview situation or not! Standing and sitting up straight helps you look and feel confident and energised and it’s also much better for your spinal health! Practice holding your head up tall, pulling it up to the ceiling like you’re a puppet on a string, pull your shoulders back and hold your tummy in. Outside of the interview, core exercises like pilates and yoga can really help you improve your posture too.
‘Even the most talented technical accountant can fall down at interview if their body language isn’t right. First impressions mean such a lot and when you only have a short space of time in which to showcase your skills, you’ll want to make sure you’re not being looked over due to poor physical communication.’
Garry Howling, MD
Hopefully asking yourselves these few short questions has given you a better sense of self awareness and will leave you in a stronger position to communicate all that you want to get across at interview.
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