Interview Body Language
Sends the Right Message
Using appropriate interview body language in your job interview is essential to your success. Effective non-verbal communication techniques are as important as your verbal communication skills.
Non-verbal communication accounts for over 90% of the message you are
sending in your job interview! Your verbal content only provides 7% of
the message the interviewer is receiving from you.
Both your body language (55% of
the message) and the way you speak such as voice tone (38% of the message) are as
important as the actual words you use in your job interview answers.
8 Essential Interview Body Language Tips
Non-verbal communication tips for job interviews.
1. Interview posture - how to sit in your interview
When the interviewer offers you a seat at the start of the job interview, sit upright but not too stiffly in your chair. This indicates that you are comfortable and feeling confident. Hunching down in your chair gives the impression of nervousness and low self-esteem.
A sloppy posture indicates a careless attitude and a lack of energy. Sitting on the edge of your chair can come across as being nervous and tense.
- Relax and lean slightly forward, about 10 degrees, towards your
interviewer. This gives the message that you are both interested and
- Leaning back makes you appear too casual. Leaning
to the side can be perceived as not feeling comfortable with the
How you position your head also sends a message.
- Tilting your head very
slightly to one side comes across as friendly and open.
- Keeping it
straight comes across as self-assured and authoritative.
2. Mirror the interviewer's body language
It is important to pay attention to the posture of your
interviewer. You can establish rapport by adopting the same
posture as the other person. This is called mirroring.
If they have
adopted a more formal posture do the same until you see that the
interviewer has relaxed and become less formal.
3. Interview body language - what to do with your hands
you are unsure of what to do with your hands, rest them loosely
clasped in your lap or on the table in front of you.
Control your hands by being aware
of what you are doing with them.
- Having your hands above the neck, fiddling with your face or your hair,
is unprofessional and conveys nervousness and anxiety.
- Keep your hands
away from your face. Interview body language experts will tell you that
touching the nose or lips can indicate that the candidate is lying or uncertain.
- Folding your arms across your chest suggests a closed and
- Waving your hands and arms around can be perceived
as uncertainty and a lack of professionalism. Common wisdom is that the
less you move your arms and hands about the more confident and in
control you are.
- Practice a comfortable way to loosely place your arms
and hands while you are sitting, both at a table and in a chair on its
4. Be aware of your legs
Be aware of the interview body language message your legs are giving.
- Lots of leg movement is both distracting and indicates nervousness.
- Resting one leg or ankle on top of your other knee makes you look too
casual and comes across as arrogant.
- Crossing your legs high up conveys a
defensive attitude in the one-on-one context of a job interview.
- Crossing them at the ankles or placing both feet flat on the floor
conveys a confident and professional look during the job interview.
5. Make eye contact
the interviewer is talking and you want to show that you are actively
listening, you need to instigate direct eye contact and maintain it.
Avoid appearing as if you are staring aggressively by blinking at
regular intervals and moving your head every now and then, such as
giving a small nod.
How to use eye contact to build rapport
- Interview body language experts suggest that when you are doing the
talking you need to hold eye contact for periods of about 10 seconds
before looking away briefly and then re-establishing eye contact.
- Over-using direct eye contact when you are speaking can come across as challenging the interviewer.
- Typically the listener
maintains direct eye contact for longer than the speaker who breaks it
off at intervals.
- Looking constantly downwards makes you appear insincere or submissive.
It is acceptable to look down if you are making notes or referring to
information in front of you.
- However if you are speaking, or the
interviewer is asking you something, raise your head and make regular
eye contact to show that you are actively involved.
- With panel interviews it is best to look at and
direct your answer to the person asking the question, with a glance
periodically at the other interviewers.
- Eye contact is essential
interview body language to establish rapport with your interviewer.
6. How to monitor your voice delivery
Speaking in a clear and controlled voice conveys confidence.
- Avoid speaking in a monotone by varying your tone and pitch, however don't overdo it and come across as overly excited or emotional.
- Breathe and pause before answering a question, this gives you time to react in a considered way and it ensures that the interviewer has finished the question.
- You should interact with the interviewer as an equal, not a subordinate. Ensure that your voice tone is not apologetic or defensive.
7. Avoid displaying too much emotion
Generally it is advisable not to show too much or too strong emotion
during your job interview. Smile and nod at appropriate times but don't
overdo it. Avoid intense facial expressions, gesticulations and erupting into laughter on your own.
8. How to read the interviewer's body language
Watch for these interview body language signals from your interviewer to read the message they are sending you.
- Body language cues that can indicate boredom include resting head on
hand, fiddling with hands and losing eye contact. If this happens wrap
up what you are saying and move on by asking the interviewer a question
such as: "Is there anything else you would like to know about that topic?"
- Drumming fingers and rubbing the face can indicate irritation. Clarify
that you are answering the question with the information they want and
not frustrating them with an off-the-point response.
- If the interviewer crosses arms or leans away it could mean that they are feeling uncomfortable. Consider your interview body language. Perhaps you are leaning in too
close and invading their space in some way.
- Be aware of personal space. If there is not a table between you that creates a safe
degree of personal space, keep a distance of about two to three feet,
this is a comfortable amount of personal space for most people.
What message do your interview clothes send? Know how to dress
for an interview and make the right first impression.
Preparing for your job interview includes not only knowing what to say
but how to say it. The best way to be aware of your interview body
language and the way you are coming across is to practice in front of a
mirror. This way you can be confident that you are sending the right
message in your job interview.
Use the mock job interview to help you.
Quick Links to Job Interview Tips
Make sure your verbal communication is appropriate and conveys a professional image in your job interview.
Interview body language tips for panel interviews
Prepare for your job interview using this interview checklist and have everything covered before your interview.
Be ready for any interview question you may have to answer. Go to these sample job interview questions
Job Interview > Interview Tips > Body Language
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