Is your body language in your interview something that you think about? Probably not. And it’s no surprise. Because when you’re preparing for an interview, the first things you generally think of are the possible interview questions you’ll have to answer or preparing for any tasks you have to complete in the process.
But your body language can tell an interviewer just as much as what you say. But the majority of our body language is subconscious, it can be completely unintentional and you can be completely unaware of what your body language in an interview says about you.
Why Is Your Body Language So Important In Interviews?
Interviewers and hiring managers are often given training to understand what interview body language really says about a candidate. Which makes it crucial that you’re conscious of your body language, and use it to your own advantage.
So what does your body language say about you?
- A lack of eye contact or looking away: If you don’t make eye contact, your interviewer may believe that you lack confidence in yourself or in what you’re saying.
- Excessive fidgeting or hand movements: Fidgeting is a classic sign of interview nerves. And while these are natural, your interviewer will want to hire someone who is cool under pressure, especially in a client facing role.
- Sitting with your arms across your chest: When you’re sitting with your arms across your chest, you look closed off and as if you’re trying to protect yourself. Better would be to sit with arms by your side, opening your body to show that you’re receptive to what the interviewer is saying.
- Excessive body movement: If you’re constantly shifting your sitting position or squirming in your chair, you are telling the interviewer that you’re uncomfortable. And while it’s natural to be a bit uneasy in an interview, if it’s too much it may count against you.
These are just a few examples of the different ways in which you need to avoid conveying your nerves to an interviewer. Because you want to appear confident and in control of yourself and the situation.
Example of Body Language in an Interview
To show how important body language is, let’s look at an example. Enter our first interviewee, Michael.
Michael enters the room where the interview is being held, says hello and slouches in the chair. As the interviewers begin speaking and introducing themselves, Michael is staring at the floor, with his hands in his pockets. Michael only makes eye contact when asked a question.
Michael could give the best answers in the world, but his body language is still telling the interviewer that he would rather be anywhere else in the world. Which is not the impression you want to give in your interview. Meanwhile let’s look at our second interviewee.
Jane enters the room, says hello and shakes the hand of all the interviewers and introduces herself before sitting in the chair offered. Amy sits up straight, actively listening to the interviewers speak and making eye contact with whoever is talking.
Jane immediately appears to be more confident, attentive and eager to be in the interview.
7 Body Language Tips For Your Interviews
Body language tips for interviews like these may seem obvious. But your body language is largely unintentional and it takes a conscious effort to think about what your body is saying. So let’s break it down into 7 body language tips that you can actively prepare before you head into an interview.
1. A firm handshake
First things first when entering the interview is to give a firm handshake to the interviewers. A firm handshake that doesn’t break their fingers shows you’re confident and excited to meet the interviewers.
For some interviewers a handshake, or lack of, wouldn’t be a deal breaker as they understand not everyone feels comfortable with it. But for some a handshake is a sign of mutual respect, so we say it’s better to play it safe if you feel comfortable doing so.
2. Sit up straight and have a good posture
Your posture tells the interviewer a lot about you. The ideal posture would be sat up straight, chin parallel to the ground, slightly leaning forward to show your interest.
A good posture also helps you be more confident and in control of the situation! And studies have shown it leads to increased testosterone, which has links to social dominance and confidence.
Meanwhile, while you want to show that you’re relaxed in the interview, slouching in your chair may show that you’re a little too relaxed.
3. Smile like you’re happy to be there…
Even if you’re not!
When you’re filled with stress and nerves, it can be difficult to remember to do something as simple as smile. But smiling when you say hello and at appropriate times will help to make your interviewer feel like you’re enjoying meeting and talking with them.
Additionally, studies have shown that even forcing a smile can help to calm your own nerves and to lower your heart rate!
In addition to this, you want to appear friendly and approachable to your interview. Because the interviewer isn’t just looking for someone who will be successful in the job, but someone who they may be working with for the next few years!
4. Make eye contact. But not too much…
Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer a natural amount of time helps to show that you’re actively listening, as well as helping you to convey confidence and self-esteem.
Additionally, body language expert Lillian Glass expresses its importance as a powerful tool for building relationships. And an interview isn’t just about answering the questions. It’s also about building a positive relationship with the hiring manager, so when they decide who to continue the hiring process with, they recall you and your interview strongly and positively.
5. Showing you’re engaged with non-verbal cues.
In-person interviews can be a slog. Often lasting an hour or longer. And it can be exhausting physically and mentally to maintain focus. But showing you’re engaged throughout the process is crucial. Which is where non-verbal cues come into play.
Small non-verbal cues like nodding, smiling, and leaning forward at appropriate moments show you’re still actively interested and listening to the interviewer. But if you’re sat there rigid with no appearance of agreeing of understanding the interviewer, they may feel like they’re talking to a statue.
6. Leave a strong last impression as you exit!
When the interview has finished, you might be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief. But we suggest holding off on that until you’ve left the interview.
Instead, you should aim to keep up your energy as you leave, and leave a good impression. You should smile, shake their hands, and thank the interviewers for their time and consideration. Reiterating your interest in the position and saying you look forward to hearing from them is a great way to show that after your interview you are still interested in the position and hearing from them.
7. Take time to practice with a friend or by yourself.
Body language is something you do subconsciously. Especially in high pressure or stressful environments like an interview. Which means you may need to take the time to stage mock interviews and practice these techniques.
You can do this by asking a friend or family member to stage a mock interview and tell you where your body language slips. Or, you can record yourself to see where and how your posture changes.
5 Interview Body Language Tips For Virtual Interviews
Virtual and remote interviews exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 Pandemic. And while they are helpful, they can make it more difficult for both you and for the interviewer, especially if you haven’t done one before.
And surprisingly, your body language can be even more important! Because it can be more difficult to convey interest and excitement when you have limited use of your body language and are interviewing remotely. Which is why we’ve put together tips for body languages in virtual interviews.
1. Practice in front of your camera.
We would advise doing a quick practice rune with your camera. Making sure that you’re front and center, the camera is facing you head on and is level, and that you are in good lighting without blinding the camera. Because it can be strange focusing on looking at the camera on your laptop for a long time when you’ve never done a virtual interview before.
And it’s always a good idea to check that your camera is working anyway. The last thing you need is to find out that your camera isn’t working when you get into your interview!
2. Have a clean and tidy background.
You should aim to have a clean background behind you for your video interview. A plain white background is ideal as it gives the most professional look. And having a tidy workspace can decrease stress and help you to think more clearly!
Because if you walked into an interview room in an office that was cluttered and untidy, covered in boxes, paper and office equipment everywhere: You would start to worry about how that business is run. And the interviewer may think the same about you…
3. Make sure you have a quiet, calm environment.
If possible, you should try to make sure that you have a calm and quiet environment to have your interview. Think of an office in your own home or in an isolated room in your local library, instead of in a busy cafe or coffee shop. While this sounds like fairly obvious advice, it happens more often than you would think!
Because not only is it unprofessional, it can have a detrimental effect on your body language. In a calm environment, you’ll be more relaxed and your body language will show this. Conversely, if you’re in a busy and noisy environment, you may find yourself distracted and looking elsewhere.
4. Get rid of distractions to help you remain focused.
Getting rid of distractions like other screens or your phone will help to ensure that your focus remains on the screen and the people in front of you.
Because glancing down at your phone or if your eyes flick away may give the interviewer the impression that you’re not really listening or not invested in what they have to say.
5. Posture is even more important!
Your interviewers might not be able to clearly see your hand gestures, nodding or facial movements. Which makes it even more important to ensure you’re in control of what you can be, such as your posture.
So sitting straight while looking at the camera shows the interview that they have your attention, as well as helping you to appear more confident.
For more tips on virtual interviews, have a look here at our guide on navigating remote interviews.
Small tips like these can actually have a large positive impact on your interview performance: And conversely, neglecting to think about your interview body language can have a huge detrimental effect. If you’re struggling in your job search, we’ve put together a guide here on steps you can take to find success in your search.