Job Interview Body Language: 8 Proven Tips for Success

Body language, or non-verbal communication, is something that we all use and subconsciously understand through both cultural practices and code that is ingrained in our genetic makeup. When it comes to careers, job interview body language plays a huge part in our success.

In a body language TED Talk video titled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Amy Cuddy examines just how much of an impact your body language has on others and yourself. Throughout the video, Cuddy, a social scientist, discusses the impact that body language has on daily interactions and communications. Her main point of the speech, however, focuses not on how body language affects others perceptions of us, but how our body language influences our own judgments of ourselves. Just as others can interpret our emotions through our body language, we are able to “train” ourselves to feel a certain way about ourselves.

During every interview you have, your body will be communicating something to your interviewer and affecting how you feel about yourself in that moment. It’s imperative that your body language in a job interview shows you as a confident, positive, and capable person. Below we’re going over eight tips to help you take control over your job interview body language.

Job Interview Body Language: 8 Tips

1. Consider your entrance.

Your body language can be evaluated before you even meet the hiring manager. Think about how you interact with the receptionist and how you may appear as you sit in the lobby. Are you jittery and slouched? You never know who may be watching. Take some deep breaths and sit in a comfortable, upright position to convey calmness and confidence.

2. Offer a pleasant handshake.

Quickly establish your friendliness by performing this classic icebreaker correctly. A handshake that’s too hard can come off as arrogant, but one that’s too soft might make you seem timid or weak.

“A good handshake exudes confidence, and an ‘I’m ready for this’ attitude. Practice makes perfect on your handshake though, as you don’t want it to be so strong that the interviewer’s hand is hurt, or too soft, because that can send the message that you aren’t ready or confident for the interview,” notes Toni Frana, one of FlexJobs’ expert career coaches.

Aim for “just right”—firm, but not a death grip. Have a history of sweaty hands? Wake to daylong freshness by applying antiperspirant to your palms at bedtime the night before. In a pinch, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to evaporate moisture shortly before your interview.

3. Strike a powerful stance.

Hiring managers will pay attention to how you walk towards them. Crossed arms and looking towards the ground can send silent signals that you are unavailable or “closed.” Want an extra boost of confidence? Think Superman. Stand with your feet slightly apart, push your shoulders back, and keep your chin up. Studies on job interview body language show that such positioning will actually change the hormones in your brain after only two minutes, leaving you feeling stronger and less stressed.

4. Sit correctly.

A hiring manager who notices you slumping may conclude that you’re scared, and leaning back in the chair can give the air of not taking the conversation seriously.

Avoid both by sitting as if there is a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling. Pay attention to your feet placement as well. Most experts recommend placing both feet flat on the ground, or crossing your ankles if necessary.

5. Control your hands.

Guilty of tapping your fingers, fiddling with your jewelry, or picking at your nails? This type of interview body language can come off as bored or impatient.

Instead, try this: press the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple. You’ll display confidence while keeping your nervous digits under control. Another option is to keep your hands in your lap. They can be in the church steeple formation, or resting lightly on your legs. This can help you relax your shoulders and keep you from fidgeting.

6. Make eye contact.

Looking people in the eyes helps you seem attentive and trustworthy, while averting makes you appear shifty or nervous. Just don’t gaze to the point where things become uncomfortable—staring is just as creepy at an interview as it is elsewhere.

“Eye contact during an interview is important as it shows the interviewer you are confident and ready to go. It also shows one more key thing: you are listening and engaged in the conversation,” says Frana.

Got multiple interviewers in the room? Don’t miss this chance to demonstrate your team-oriented mindset. When asked a question, start out looking at the person who posed it. Then, briefly make eye contact with others before returning your gaze to the original asker while finishing your answer.

7. Pay attention to your breathing.

Out of these job interview body language tips, your breathing is one place that your nerves can really show. If you’re feeling nervous, your breaths may be short and shallow, leading to your speaking being shaky and quiet. One way to get control of your racing heart is to focus on your breathing.

Before the interview, try the 4-7-8 technique where you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. This helps you focus on breathing, rather than everything jumbling your mind. During the interview, consciously take a few deep breaths when you can fit them in to help calm yourself and lead to a steady and confident voice.

8. Smile.

Who seems more approachable and trustworthy—a smiler or a frowner? In both job interviews and in real life, people are naturally drawn to a happy face, and the feel-good chemicals smiling releases into your body will help you stay calm and upbeat.

Slap a grin onto your face in the washroom, elevator, or another private place before heading into an interview; even a forced smile can have a positive effect on your mood. But steer clear of fake, suspicion-inducing smiles around your interviewers. Instead, think about your accomplishments and your excitement for this opportunity. Your natural glow is sure to get noticed!

Job interview body language will play a key role in your ability to get the job. Your awareness can give you another tool with which to ace your interview. And don’t forget that practice makes perfect.

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