Think about your last video call, interview, or meeting. Did you touch your hair? Did you nod or smile? Did you frown or cross your arms? Did you even have your camera on? The working world has largely moved online, and body language has never been so important.
Many researchers and scientific reports state that 70%+ of communication is non-verbal. Non-verbal communication, or body language, includes eye contact, smiling, nodding or head shaking and fidgeting such as playing with your hair and touching your face or neck.
These things can influence a person’s perception of you and are important to be aware of in video job interviews.
During a video interview, you are front and centre of the screen and small movements can appear amplified for the viewer on the other side of the screen. This might sound a little daunting, but the good news is you also have much more control.
How body language can impact our own behaviour
Our body language impacts how others see us, but also how we feel about ourselves. If our body language is strong and confident, we tend to feel more confident. Whereas if you’re hunched or cross your arms and legs this can make us feel less powerful and more vulnerable.
Some good, scientific, or tried and tested, tips to boost your confidence through body language include:
1. Before the interview practice some power stances
Open your arms wide, tilt your head up or stretch your arms up as if you’re reaching for something, basically take up as much space with your body as you can. These are all power stances and can increase confidence in a similar, but more physical way, to positive affirmations.
2. Positive body language - before and during the call
Frowning or negative facial movements can cause our bodies to release cortisol which is the stress hormone. On the other hand, more open gestures and expressions such as smiling signals to our brain that we’re happy and can stimulate happy endorphins. The science behind this is debated, but if it can help you get into a positive mindset and act as part of your prep routine there’s certainly no harm in it.
3. Place feet on the ground and sit with good posture
A strong posture gives off an impression of confidence and can make us feel more together while placing your feet planted on the floor can help you feel ‘grounded’ and reduce the urge to fidget.
Job interview body language tips
The goal is for your body language to be subtle and to go unnoticed in a job interview for all the right reasons.
We can no longer shake hands, but we can still smile. Smiling at the start of a call shows you are engaged (ideally a smile with exposed teeth) and starts the interview on a good note. Smiling and laughter are also contagious – just look at this video if you need convincing. While we’re not saying you should break into laughter, it is a good example of how mood and body language behaviour can almost immediately have an impact on others.
5. Eye contact
To achieve good eye contact in a video interview look into your webcam, rather than at your screen or yourself. You should get rid of any distractions, for example, your phone, to avoid your eyes wandering. Practising eye contact on video is key. Record yourself or call a few friends and after a few test-runs, you should ease into a natural gaze.
6. “Still and proud” when speaking
When answering interview questions avoid fidgeting (which can be particularly distracting on a video call) or crossing your legs, speak clearly and try not to hunch.
You might not be aware of habits you have when speaking, for example touching your face or hair, so do a few test runs, record yourself and watch back. Then repeat this exercise until you feel confident.
Positive body language alone won't guarantee a job offer, but the way you present yourself to the hiring manager can be really impactful. The overall aim is to appear passionate, confident, and comfortable.
Use the simple power dynamics listed in this article, smile, place feet on the ground, don’t hunch and avoid touching your face, to achieve this. Practising what you’ll say and common interview questions will also heavily influence your confidence and in turn, your body language so never skip full preparation too.