+27 21 410 2020

Does body language count?

You may have read on several occasions that body language is an important part of your communication skills. Does success at an interview really depend that heavily on the way you cross your legs and sit when you speak?

Let’s look at a number of arguments commonly advanced by the experts:

Argument 1 – First impressions count 

TRUE

The way you dress, the way you look at the interviewers, the way you shake hands … everything contributes towards building a positive image. Dress smart, shake hands firmly but not aggressively, wear a nice suit, with a white shirt and a mildly colourful tie (without red if possible) and you will gain an advantage. The first 30 seconds can make or break a candidate.

Argument 2 – My body language will have an influence on the interviewers

TRUE

If you speak with your arms crossed, it will come across as defensive and not open. Eyes wonder around the room, either disinterested or, worse, a liar. Cross one leg horizontally, too casual.

Argument 3 – Communication is 60% body language, 30% delivery, and only 10% content

TRUE

This is a universally recognised rule of communication.

Conclusion: I must concentrate on my body language rather than the content

NOT QUITE
By all means, dress well, smile and be friendly. However, your body language itself is merely a sign of what is going on in your mind and how you feel at the time of the interview. It is not a constant feature that you can improve independently from the rest.
If you are unprepared, constantly in fear of failure, worried about what the next question will be or whether you will be able to disguise an awkward part of your CV, then your body language will reflect your unease.
However, if you are well prepared if you know that whatever the question you will be able to give a thorough, cohesive and focused answer and sell yourself appropriately, then your body language will reflect your confidence and will come across well. In other words, if you sort out the 10% content and 30% delivery, the 60% body language will mostly take care of itself.