Watch your language

Mon, 30/04/2012 - 19:40 -- nick

This is another in the Richmond Solutions series of blogs, this time focusing on interview skills. The focus is on the importance of body langauage, and Heidi describes it fantastically, but why not look at some of the interview skills videos at to see some real examples that you can use to learn? This way you can be fully prepared for your next interview.
'A lot is said about the importance of positive body language in interviews. Never have I been made so starkly aware of how we express ourselves without speaking than during the second module of my training to be a London Ambassador for the Olympic Games. Since the core of our job is to welcome visitors to London (and to keep Londoners moving), this focused heavily on customer service training, provided by John Lewis, the UK’s leading department store.
As part of the package, we were shown a number of videos. One deliberately had no sound. The camera was in the place of the customer who was attempting to get the attention of members of staff. We didn't need to hear the words to articulate what we thought of each encounter. However, the words later confirmed what we thought.
In human interaction, we rely heavily on non-verbal signals for communication and if you are under scrutiny, this is one of the aspects which will be watched most closely. Since so much is said about the "don'ts" of this, let’s think of the "does" for a change. How do you create a good impression (even if your knees have turned to jelly with nerves)?

  • Keep your body language open. If you gesture with your arms, hold them open, as if to welcome someone, not folded, which is generally interpreted as defensiveness.
  • Appear relaxed and comfortable. This does not mean putting your feet up on the desk. Sit up straight in your chair (but not bolt upright – there is a difference!) and keep your hands resting in your lap.
  • Demonstrate your interest. This does not mean maintaining a fixed Cheshire cat smile, but smiling in recognition and possibly leaning forward or tipping your head gently. The importance is to ensure it is natural, rather than forced and over-emphasised.

Boiling it down, there seems relatively little to it and with all things it is probably more productive to focus on the positive than the negative.
The last slide of the training session bore a quote from Maya Angelou:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
A good one to bear in mind, I think, when you prepare for interview. The unspoken is as essential as the spoken when it comes to creating the right impression.

Heidi Nicholson
Richmond Solutions