body language

Important Body Language During an Interview

What you say in a job interview is important. Most candidates spend a lot of time preparing good answers to common interview questions. But what you say in an interview with your words is only one part of the interview process. The other is the way you say it: Let’s talk about body language.

How the interviewer perceives your body language can make the difference between receiving a lucrative job offer or filling out more job applications.

Here are some tips to help you land your dream job:

How to Act in an Interview: Body Language

First, let’s define body language: The term “body language” includes just about any manner, gesture, or posture that conveys meaning to the observer.

Have you ever spoken with someone and know right away whether or not they were interested in what you had to say?

How did you know that? Was it the way they were sitting, the look in their eyes, or how they responded to your questions?

Your interviewer will do the same! They will be paying as much attention to nonverbal cues as to what you have to say.

Body Language to Avoid

What you do can outweigh what you say. Instead of saying that you’re excited about the job opportunity, show them.

If you’ve ever been accused of RBF, you know that your face can show people emotions that might not exist. So, how you act, even unconsciously, is important, especially in an interview.

Examples of body language to avoid:

  • looking anxious or bored by repeatedly crossing and uncrossing your legs or arms
  • fiddling with your hair
  • continually touching your face
  • scratching your head (it makes you seem unclean)
  • continuously playing with a button or pen
  • constant or bold gesturing

I know–that was a lot of “don’ts.” And since some of these mannerisms are often triggered by nervousness, solid interview preparation and rehearsal may help you to feel more relaxed.

Now let’s talk about things you should do to show that you’re engaged and eager in an interview.

Positive Body Language

Here are some actionable examples of positive body language in an interview:

Shake hands the proper way

Make it a priority to shake hands with your interviewer.

I remember being twenty-something in my first real job interview and just hoping I wouldn’t mess up the handshake.

I kept thinking, “not too firm, not too soft, but juuust right”.

The handshake is a simple symbol of introduction and a polite way to acknowledge the other person.

But it can also be an unspoken gauge of personality. Hiring managers say that while a limp or unenthusiastic handshake won’t necessarily destroy an interview. But it can cause one to start off on a bad note. The same goes for a sweaty palm.

To avoid sweaty hands, keep your hands open, before your interview. Even better, put a few tissues in your pocket, just in case.

Clasp your interviewer’s hand firmly and confidently, but don’t overdo it. You got this.

Maintain Eye Contact

You might be shy, but you still have to look them in the eye.

A lack of eye contact can lead your interviewer to think that you’re shy, disinterested, or dishonest. For some technical positions, especially for programmers, there’s a stereotype that people are shy and awkward around others.

Being able to comfortably maintain eye contact helps you to go against that stereotype.

However, shifting your eyes to and from the interviewer’s face can also send the wrong message. It’s no wonder “shifty-eyed” is a term used to describe a character who is deceitful or insincere.

While you don’t want to stare at your interviewer to the point of making him or her uncomfortable, do maintain eye contact as much as seems appropriate.

If you are speaking to more than one interviewer, you can shift your gaze between them, but be sure to look each interviewer in the eye for at least a couple of seconds. Direct your answers to all of the people in the room.

Smile When You Mean It

Smiling, the universal sign of happiness, and is a great way to convince your interviewer that you’re genuinely pleased to be there.

On the other hand, an oversized or artificial grin used too often during the interview will lead to the opposite result. Your interviewer will know you’re forcing yourself to act a certain way.

According to Discover Magazine, when a person is sincerely amused, a part of the brain called the basal ganglia is activated, leading to the unconscious contracting of certain facial muscles. A forced smile, however, uses a different group of muscles, which is why it’s generally easy to recognize a person who is legitimately pleased versus one who is only pretending to be.

During an interview, be sure to smile-but only when you mean it. It’s infinitely better to smile occasionally but earnestly than to smirk constantly for no reason at all.

Be Mindful Of Personal Space

Individual cultures and even individual people have different interpretations of what constitutes an appropriate amount of personal space.

While one person might feel at ease speaking only inches from someone’s face, another person might need several feet of separation. When facing your interviewer, be mindful of how close you stand or sit.

Try to maintain a distance of about three feet. Communicating at a closer range may cause your interviewer to feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, sitting or standing too far away is also impolite. When appropriate, mimic your interviewer’s body language cues.

Book Your Next Interview

Know what to say, and what not to say, in your next interview. To interview with professional body language, maintain eye contact, shake hands (if interviewing in-person), and be mindful of space–whether you’re in their office or too close to your camera screen.

Of course, if someone who’s looking for the perfect professional fit and just hasn’t found it yet, or you keep making it to the interview round, but can’t seem to get the job, you’ve come to the right place.

Camden Kelly is here to help: Our expert team of technology recruiters will review your resume and get to know you, to understand what your perfect job looks like.  Click here to send in your resume, and we will help you land that dream job.