The secret to a successful interview? Let your body language do the talking

INTERVIEWS are nerve-wracking. Just the thought of going into a room to be assessed by an employer is enough to get some people sweating. And it doesn’t tend to lower anxiety levels to learn that University of Pennsylvania research shows that just 7 per cent of the impression you give is created by what you actually say. The rest is body language. But fear not, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques used by some psychotherapists claim to have the solution. NLP practitioner and career coach Rachel Brushfield talks us through the basics.

“Crossing your arms makes you look defensive and aggressive,” says Brushfield. “You should try to use open hand gestures, showing your palms, to appear approachable to the interviewer.” This subconsciously says you are easy to work with and willing to learn. The photos on the left and right show the visual impact of these postures.

Gesticulating with your hands while talk ing shows interest in what you are saying, explains Brushfield. “Employers want to see you passionate about the job, this technique can help express that.”

Unsurprisingly, an interviewer liking you as a person can increase your chances of getting the job. Building a subconscious rapport with them could therefore be a useful skill. Brushfield suggests that you should try to mirror the interviewer’s body language. “If they are crossing their arms, cross yours too. The interviewer is likely to uncross theirs subconsciously, allowing you to follow suit.” The process of subtle reflection of each other will build a sense of being similar people.

Of course, body language alone won’t land you a job, but if all you have to do to improve your chances is unfold your arms, it can’t hurt trying.

Studying eye movements for signs of lying is probably NLP’s most controversial claim. Enthusiasts, however, argue that the micromovement of eyes accompany types of thought. They believe that when people look left they are remembering something – that is telling the truth (picture left).

While eyes looking up and to their right are thought to accompany thoughts that are constructed – that is, a lie (picture below).

While it would be foolish to treat this as conclusive, Brushfield says you need to give it some consideration during interviews. You could be giving the wrong message subconsciously. Anyone elaborating on the truth could be distrusted in a glance.

Those keen for more information should attend NLP enthusiast Paul McKenna’s seminar “Get the Life You Want” on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2011. Go to for more information.