You’ve landed an interview and are just about to sit down with the interviewer. You make yourself comfortable (at least as comfortable as you can given the circumstance), and do a mental check to ensure that your body language is articulate and professional. As you go through the interview, you check in with yourself — are you sitting up straight and maintaining eye contact? The interviewer, however, has put down the pen and paper and now sits armed crossed, completely disengaged from the interview. Uhoh! You’ve been so concerned with your own body language that you weren’t paying attention to the interviewer’s body language.
The body language of the interviewer can be indicative of how the interview is going, so it is important that you pay attention to their body language as much as you are aware of your own. It’s hard enough to keep your own body language in check sometimes; how are you supposed to analyze the body language of the interviewer at the same time? Obviously that is not the reason for the meeting; you are there to convince the interviewer that you are the best person for the job. In doing so, it is a good idea to check in with the interviewer’s body language from time to time.
So, what are the signs that may indicate that an interviewer might not be engaged in the interview? Here are some cues:
Tick tock, tick tock: The interviewer will have to be aware of the time to ensure that they stay on schedule, however it’s a red flag if you see them checking their watch every five minutes.
Pen down, Notebook shut: Any good interviewer will take notes in an interview. There may be brief periods of time in the interview when the interviewer is not taking notes, but beware if they stop writing and shut their notebook. This could be an indication that they feel that what you are saying is not worth writing down.
Glazed over: If you see the interviewer starting to glaze over, chances are that they are no longer paying attention to your responses.
“One second, I just have to reTweet this…” The allure of distraction can be strong, particularly with the prevalence of electronic gadgets in our lives. That means you have to work harder to keep the interviewer’s attention. If the interviewer is checking their Blackberry or answering their phone (yikes!), then you need to get their attention back.
Yawning: The interviewer didn’t have a late night; they’re bored.
Posture: If the interviewer is slouched in their chair, this may indicate that they have dis-engaged from the interview. If they have their arms crossed, then this is a double red flag because not only are they not engaged, but they’ve completely stepped out.
If an interview is not going well, there may be nothing that you can do to turn it around. But, it is always worth a try and the key is in your answers to the interviewer’s questions. The responses that you provide to the interviewer can serve to engage or disengage them in the interview. Your answers will be more effective if they are on point, concise, appropriate for your audience, and enthusiastic. Going off on a tangent and not answering the question asked will surely disengage the interviewer. By providing a long-winded response you run the risk of the interviewer becoming disinterested in what you are saying. Give the interviewer the information that they are looking for: no more, no less. If the interviewer wants more information, they will ask. Be aware of your audience when answering the questions. If you have a technical background and are interviewing with a person who is not technical, then don’t go into great technical detail in your answers. Finally, make sure that your responses are enthusiastic. Answers that lack enthusiasm are not as memorable; enthusiastic people not only leave positive impressions, but they also engage their audience.
Good luck... and remember to sit up straight! jp