Mastering the Body Language of a Video Interview

by Kirthana Rajamogan

First Impressions DO Count

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26 MARCH, 2021
Interviews are one of the most unnatural experiences you face as an adult.

You are required to sit in starchy, formal clothes, opposite people you don’t know, usually in a room on the uncomfortable side of warm.
The interviewers then get to ask you an endless stream of questions. You’ll have to recite your employment history, personal achievements, greatest challenge, favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream...

Then, the inevitable double-whammy of why you want to leave your current employer and join the company whose office you’re sat in.
Performing well in an interview is as much about technique as it is about remembering who you worked for during the summer vacation after your first year at college.

However, the ubiquity of video calling technology is making video interviews more and more common. It makes a lot of sense for organisations across all industries. Whether it’s interviewing to build a remote team, or to save money on flying someone halfway around the world for a first stage interview, the benefits are evident. This shift in the recruitment process also means you as a candidate need to learn some new skills for mastering the body language of video interviews.

Cover the basics

Just as with a conventional interview you need to prepare.

Instead of planning your journey to ensure you arrive 10 minutes early, you need to prepare where you’re having your interview.
If it’s at your desk in your home office, make sure it’s clutter (and distraction) free.
Make sure you’ve got a notepad handy and a pen that works!

If the interview is happening over Teams or Zoom, make sure you’ve downloaded everything you need in advance.
Familiarise yourself with the software so you don’t keep your potential employer waiting.

Test your hardware too. While integrated speakers, microphones and cameras on most modern laptops are reliable, you don’t want every other sentence to be: ‘sorry, can you repeat that’...

Is your chair comfortable and at the right height. Fidgeting your way through an interview will not make the right impression.
Make sure you dress the part too. At least from the waist up. While you may be interviewing from the comfort of your own home, you still need to be respectful of the people conducting the interview.

Get your body language right

Once you have all the basics down, you need to get your body language down.

While it is common knowledge that 93% of communication is non-verbal, 55% of communication is body language.
So, getting your body language right during a video interview will communicate a considerable amount.
After all you want to present yourself as confident, friendly, and positive. How you sit, gesture and even look will all be contributing to your interviewer’s overall assessment of you.

🔻 Look them in the eye

This is trickier than it sounds. While we’re taught to make eye contact when we speak to people, it’s much harder to do on a video call.
This is mainly because we naturally look at the screen. While laptop integrated cameras are positioned so it gives the impression you’re looking at the person you’re talking to, it’s not perfect.

Train yourself to look into the camera when responding to a question. It’s hard and feels quite uncomfortable to begin with, but it tends to elicit a more favourable response.

🔻 Posture

Just as sitting up straight in a face-to-face interview is important, the same is true during a video interview. Slouching makes you look lazy, disinterested and a little rude.
Remember, this is an opportunity to to convince your interviewer that you’re a good fit for their team.

This isn’t about convincing people you will sit ram-rod straight the entire time you’re working. Sitting up straight shows your enthusiasm and energy for the role you’re interviewing for. Similarly, when we’re talking to someone in person, we tend to lean forward when they say something interesting. It’s important to replicate this behaviour during a video interview. Just bear in mind that if you lean in too much your interviewer will get an extreme close up.

Moving forward just a couple of inches will be enough to communicate interest for the people seeing you on the other side of the call.

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🔻 Don’t fold your arms

It is widely accepted that folding your arms is perceived as defensive or closed off. Many dispute it as merely something more comfortable to do with your appendages when you’re not using them.

Regardless, in an interview setting it is widely perceived as negative.

If you have a habit of folding your arms, try clasping your hands in front of you or on your lap.
The advantage of having your hand in front of you is that it pulls you slightly forward so you’ll maintain a positive posture.
Also think about what you’re doing with your feet. By keeping them planted evenly on the floor you will find it easier to hold your posture. If your feet are out in front of you, you will slouch.If your feet are tucked under the chair with your ankles crossed, your center of gravity will shift and you’ll find yourself learning too far forward.

🔻 Keep the gestures to a minimum

Most of us use gestures to animate our stories or to emphasise our point.
For your friends and family, it is all part of the way you communicate.
It’s as familiar as the sound of your voice or your smile.

In an interview setting it can be distracting. That’s not to say don’t use your hands at all. Sitting there bolt upright with very little movement won’t communicate dynamic and energetic future colleague. It will communicate ‘sophisticated robot sent from the future to make interviews deeply boring’.

Use gestures to help make your point but remember you’re on camera, so keep them under control and be sympathetic to your bandwidth. You don’t want the call to drop because you were throwing shapes.

🔻 Don’t forget your face

Your interview is going to spend most of the time looking at your face.
They’ll be gauging your reactions to tough questions. Checking that your eyes aren’t drifting towards your phone that you left next to your computer.

Pro tip - put your phone in another room. You don’t need it.
They’ll be looking to see if you’re nervous or even whether or not you’re lying.
Another pro-tip - never lie in an interview. Not even a little. If you get the job you’ll get found out and the fall out from that is never worth it.

A genuine smile is a great way to start building a rapport with your interviewer. It shows you’re friendly, approachable and you’re enjoying the experience. Even if you’re terrified. Unless you’re forcing the smile, then you’ll look like a psychopath LOL

Smile when it feels like the right time. As someone with the full spectrum of human emotions, this should come quite naturally. Just don’t overthink it. Speaking while smiling makes you come off as friendlier, more positive and, therefore, a more appealing candidate.

Also using a well timed nod tells your interviewer that you’re responding favourably to what they’re saving, without interruption.
Coupled with a genuine smile and you can communicate all the excitement you feel for the job without ever saying a word.
Keep the nodding under control though. You want to say you’re interested - excited even. Not that you’re a giant bobble-head doll.

Back into the job market after a long absence?

Getting your body language right during a video interview can make the difference between getting the job and getting nowhere.
If you get it right though, you will come across as happy, confident, positive and capable. All things an employer wants from a new member of the team! Get in touch below to find more about our latest vacancies.

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About the Author

Kirthana is the heart of our Talent Acquisition Team, in other words, she matches your best skills with new, exciting career opportunities. 🤝 With 5 years in Management and Customer Service, she loves building client relationships and exploring ideas that help the team grow. When she's not busy finding you your dream job, she enjoys shopping, writing and hiking by the lake. Oh, and she loves food!