Job Advice

What Your Body Language Says About You in an Interview 

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April 15, 2016

In our daily life, we often don’t think about how we compose ourselves—we simply go through the motions and assume our mannerisms and movements go unnoticed. No one sees us slouching at our desks, fidgeting through a problem, or staring off into space during a meeting. Or do they?

 It’s one thing to not pay too much attention to your body language when you’re relaxing at home or out with friends, but it can be disastrous during a job interview. The way you present and conduct yourself physically can have a huge effect on how your potential employer sees you, even making or breaking their decision to bring you on board.

The Offenders 

Too much direct eye contact—This one seems up for debate, but according to an article posted by Mashable, body language expert, Dr. Lillian Glass says direct eye contact isn’t always the way to go in an interview. If you think about it, looking directly into someone’s eyes can feel a little awkward, especially when talking for extended periods of time. Instead, Glass suggests looking at a person’s eyes, nose, and mouth to soften your stare. That being said, making regular eye contact is important for any face-to-face communication, so don’t avoid it altogether.

Crossing your arms—While crossing your arms may work for a snappy headshot or professional photo, it’s not a good idea in an interview. As an image, it may exude confidence and candor, but when you’re one-on-one with your potential employer, sitting with your arms crossed can come off as defensive and aggressive, according to advice from charisma coach, Cynthia Burnham in an article published by Forbes. It can also make you look nervous or closed off.

Nodding—Nodding your head is like pouring sugar into coffee: you need to know when to say when. In a conversation, it’s important to signal that you’re paying attention with careful nods of acknowledgement, but according to Burnham, if you not too much, you might look absent-minded. The key is moderation.

The Winners 

Sit up—Posture is key. Even if you have a bad habit of hunching or slouching, which you should try to break anyway for your health, slouching in an interview gives the impression of indifference, according to CBS News. Remaining upright, poised, and straight will show employers you are attentive and professional.

Stay planted—This one’s tricky. Do your best to keep your feet securely stuck on the ground. Why, you ask? Well, according to body language expert, Patti Wood, your brain works better. Keeping your feet firmly planted helps your brain switch from creative thought to complex, rational thought, which can be useful in a job interview. It can also keep you from being overly fidgety, which can be a problem during interviews.

Be relaxed (or at least look like it)—Interviews can rattle the nerves of most anyone, but be careful that your anxiety isn’t overrunning your appearance. Make sure you speak slowly and clearly. Take subtle deep breaths when others are talking. Pay attention to your shoulders as they tend to creep up to our ears when we’re nervous. While plastering a giant smile on your face would be weird, an understated smile can soften your face and help mask your anxiety.

Follow these tips and just be your calm, cool, and collected self and you’ll do well. And remember, job interviews are great practice no matter what the outcome. The more you go through them, the better you’ll get each time.