Body Language in interviews – Mirroring and Matching

Understanding body language in interviewing is useful not only for gaining a sense of how other people may feel about something or what unconscious message you may be giving, it is also useful for establishing stronger rapport.

Maybe an interview has got of to a bad start and you know it isn’t going well. There is a way to help turn it around to your favour.

Interview skills – mirroring and matching

It is called building rapport. Rapport is when you can communicate well with someone and there is a harmonious feeling between you.

People feel most comfortable in situations that are familiar. New things scare people; our brain is built to pick up on similarities.

To build rapport you can use a few techniques called matching and mirroring.

Interview Skills Matching
Matching is when you match someone’s body, tone or words.

You can match the body several ways for instance

  • How fast are they breathing?
  • What are their arms, legs, hands, or feet doing?
  • Do they nod their head in a particular way
  • Are they blinking fast or slow?
  • What is their posture like?
  • Is their brow wrinkled?

If you are matching and someone’s brow is wrinkled then you will wrinkle yours. If you are mirroring and someone puts their right hand up then you put up your left as though you are their mirror image.

Never do matching or mirroring straight away as it can seem forced and false. For instance if someone crosses their leg wait a few minutes then cross yours but maybe as a mirror my casually reflect their movements in slow motion.

You might also match someone’s tone.

  • Do they have a high voice or low?
  • Is there some sort of cadence to their speech?
  • Do they speak loudly or quietly
  • At what rate do they speak?
  • Gently matching someone’s accent or volume can make them feel more relaxed and trusting.

Interview skills mirroring

You may also mirror back to them certain phrases that they use or repeat back part of what they say. You could also paraphrase what they say to show you are listening.

For instance, you may say things like…”so basically you are saying… I have that right?” or “you mentioned ‘going to the beach during the winter’, that is a great idea”

Carefully using the suggestions above you can make people feel more relaxed and even like you better. Even if you originally got off to a bad start.

You can check if you are in rapport by seeing if when you change your body gestures that they start to mirror or match you. The other person may also start to blush slightly when you have reached a certain level of rapport with them.

These basic interview skills will only add to your success and Interview Advantage offers advice on how to improve your ability at interviews. It is important to note that interview techniques such as matching and mirroring need to be practised. We would not advise that you try them for the first time in an important interview.