Interview Body Language: How to Interview without Breaking a Sweat

Interview Body Language

How to Interview without Breaking a Sweat

As important as what you say is during a job interview, the way you communicate with body language also needs to be given some serious attention. You may be an interviewing pro or maybe the nervous type in stressful situations, whatever the case, you must make sure that your body language doesn’t speak more loudly than your words. Using these general body language tips will help you communicate that you are a great fit for the job, rather than drawing attention away from your skills.

Do this in Your Interview…

  • Smile. A warm smile can be contagious and create a comfortable environment for an interview. Think of the effect just receiving a smile from a stranger on the street can have on your day. It matters, a lot.

    Man leaning over table aggressively

    Interview body language counts!

  • Shake hands. Always start an interview with shaking hands. This will open a friendly door and set the tone between you and the interviewer. Use a solid grip while shaking hands without being aggressive. Practice if needed before the interview.
  • Make good eye contact. Employers want to know that they can trust you. Maintaining friendly eye contact is a great way to show that you’re trustworthy. Holding eye contact while shaking the hand of your employer and occasionally throughout the interview will make the interview more personal.
  • Be bright eyed and bushy tailed. Walk with energy and purpose. Sit erectly with good posture, but don’t go overboard and look to stiff. Enter with the appearance of confidence, even if you are feeling everything except confident! Sitting up straight conveys confidence, intelligence and honesty.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Notice what is around you as you follow the interviewer through the place of business. If someone else is watching you, make eye contact and smile. Remember, these could be future colleagues of yours. It is imperative that you leave a good impression with all those whom you cross paths with. You never know who is taking notes on your behavior.
  • Nod and occasionally lean in. One of the best ways to appear attentive, engaged and interested in a conversation is to lean in and nod occasionally. This shows that you are agreeable and understand what is being discussed. All of which are crucial in an interview. If this is not normal behavior for you, you may need to work on these skills beforehand so that they do not appear uncharacteristic for you.
  • Share attention equally. You may end up with several different people conducting your interview. Remember to move your gaze from person to person and do not become fixated on any one interviewer. Do address the person asking the questions directly initially and then move along to include all interviewers that are present.
  • Leave a positive, comfortable impression. Be calm and cool as the interview closes. Be prepared to stand with your interviewer. Gather your things and be ready but don’t rush. If you are a slightly delayed, this is a great time for a little small talk. Lastly, no matter what, do not forget to thank the interviewer for the opportunity and for their time. Everyday manners and common courtesy always count!

Not This…

  • Don’t slouch, yawn or seem bored, tired or uninterested. Lounging in your seat makes you appear uninterested and that you don’t take things seriously. Slumping also makes you look shy, stressed and un-confident. This appearance is not going to bode well for you in the interview.
  • Don’t plop down. When asked to take a seat, don’t strut to your chair. Also, be sure not to fall into your seat. Sit calmly; be as graceful as you can. This will help you to appear to be comfortable. Don’t go too far with this and dramatically throw your arm over the seat or anything however. This will make you appear arrogant. Aim for a middle ground.
  • Don’t be intimidating with eye contact. Constant eye contact can be intimidating and cause anxious feelings from your interviewers. Look away from time to time and be sure to not hold their gaze for too long. Respect personal space as well remembering that about 20 inches is the normal comfort zone for most people.
  • Don’t cross your arms or legs. Body language 101, these positions make us appear defensive and guarded. Be cautious about these signs.
  • Don’t fidget. Have a place in mind to put your hands. You don’t want to wildly gesture throughout the interview. If you require something to keep you from doing this, consider keeping a pen handy. You could even have a notepad with it to take quick notes during the interview if needed.

There are many elements to a successful job interview but don’t neglect to give body language the attention it deserves. We have all heard it said time and time again, actions speak louder than words. Remember that and use your body language as an additional help rather than a hindrance as you interview to gain your desired position.

Image courtesy of Ambro at
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
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