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Body language in an interview

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 24 Feb 2021

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Job interviews aren’t always comfortable for everyone, nerves can take over and can leave you feeling anxious and this can be reflected easily in your body language, without you even noticing. Like everything you will do, it’s practice that makes it perfect. The term ‘It’s not what you say but what you do’ is very important in terms of job interviews. Your body language can give a lot away without you having to even say a word. So, from the second you walk through the door, to when you are saying your goodbyes, try and focus on being professional and confident. Some people may find this difficult and that’s why we have taken the time to talk about some of the interview do’s and don’ts when it comes to your body language.

Why does this matter?

Good communication is more than just words, it’s how we act in a situation. You want to be able to back up what you are saying with enough confidence to persuade the interviewer. You don’t want to say that you’re a good communicator and then your body language say the complete opposite.

Being able to hold eye contact with the interviewer in questions isn’t always easy for some people. Eye contact, appropriate hand gestures and other forms of body language are things that you pick up on over time. When you are more comfortable, it shows. So, try and be as calm as possible in these situations and it should come naturally.  

There are some interview do’s and don’ts when it comes to how you act, and you can read more about this below.

What you should be doing

Enter confidently – Whether you walk into the interview room alone or they come and walk you there, try and make sure you feel ready. Stand up straight, look ahead of you and try and breathe during this time, I know it can be nerve wrecking. Keep it relaxed and don’t be too tense, it will hopefully make you feel more comfortable.

Trying to maintain eye contact – I don’t mean constantly staring at them the whole time you are having a conversation. But being able to keep eye contact throughout a conversation, even if you feel a tad uncomfortable at the beginning, shows the interviewer that you are interested and engaged in what they are saying. If there is more than one interviewer, make sure you alternate between them, show them all a bit of attention. If you need to ask a question, look at the person you are asking and whilst they are talking.

Use your hands – Using your hands when you are talking is way better than keeping them crossed or clenched into fists. If you’re someone that finds it difficult to keep still, ask if you can take notes. This way you have something to do.

Nodding your head and smiling – These things sound pretty obvious, but it can be very easy for you to seize up during an interview and just try to stay still. When the interviewer is talking to you, it’s good to nod your head and maintain eye contact to let them know you are listening. It also feels a bit strange to be so still, so head tilting is another common body language sign that you’re listening.

Smiling is a given. You want to seem friendly; they’re not going to want to hire someone that looks so miserable all the time! Of course, forced smiling can be very obvious and look rather odd. So, act natural.

What you shouldn’t do

Slouch in your chair – You don’t want to slouch during an interview because it can make you come across as unengaged and just generally not bothered by what they are saying. Sitting upright in your seat gives off a much better impression. It helps you look engaged in what they are saying.

Try not to touch your face – Use your hands when talking, but make sure you aren’t touching your face too much. It can be common for some people (including myself) to constantly move their hair or touch their face during an interview. It can be distracting and can show that you are nervous or bored of the conversation. Don’t feel alone on this one, it’s very common.

Move around too much – I’m a self-confessed fidget. When I get nervous, much like many other people when they’re put into a stressful situation, I move around in my chair. I try to readjust, move my shoulders and just generally move around too much. This can display your nerves for everyone to see and it’s just a case of getting used to it and feeling comfortable.

Nerves don’t help anything when it comes to your body language. That’s why it’s always important to try and stay calm and compose yourself from the minute you step into the building. I always find it good to have a few minutes in my car beforehand just breathing and letting out positive thoughts. Anything you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable is going to help.

We do so much preparation for the interview that we often forget to take things like body language into consideration. But it’s worth taking some time to think about. Think about past interviews and what you can do to improve. You have been invited to an interview, so they already think you are a good candidate, now it’s time to let them know that you are the right person!