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7 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid at Your Next Interview

7 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid at Your Next Interview

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Your perfectly crafted resume and flawless cover letter have landed you an interview. 

You’ve perfected responses to the toughest questions that you think may be asked, and you’re heading to the interview (or waiting in the zoom call lobby) confident that you’re a strong candidate for the position. Don’t let bad body language cost you the job!

The expression “it’s not what you say, it’s what you do” is never truer than in a job interview. Take note and be sure to avoid these body language blunders at your next job interview.​

 

Not walking the walk

According to body language expert Patti Wood, interviewers often make a hiring judgment within the first 10 seconds of meeting their candidate. That means you’re being judged before you’ve even uttered your first word. So, it’s vital to be aware of what your body is saying from the moment you step through the door.

Portray confidence by walking into the room with your shoulders pulled back and your neck elongated. Walking directly toward your interviewer with every body part pointing in their direction, make eye contact with them, engage them with a smile, and you’ll make a great first impression. Remember, you've been picked to have an interview because the hiring manager thinks you're worth talking to. So, don't doubt your abilities!

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

Adjust your desk and chair so that you are sitting directly in front of the camera. Make sure the interviewer is looking at you can look at you straight on by having the camera directly in front of you rather than above or on the side. You want to make sure the screen that you're looking at is the screen that the camera is on otherwise it will look like you're looking somewhere else and not paying complete attention.

 

Ineffective handshake (when we can shake hands again)

It may seem old fashioned, but a handshake can impact how hiring managers perceive you. Too firm and you run the risk of appearing arrogant or over-confident; too weak and you risk looking like you lack determination. Before shaking hands with the hiring manager, make eye contact and smile at them. Follow their lead and only apply as much pressure as he or she does.

At the end of the interview, add a few nice words such as, "Thanks for taking the time to meet with me" or "I look forward to hearing back from you".

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

Even if you're not meeting face-to-face, you should still be greeting your interviewer and ending the interview by saying thanks.

Poor posture

Posture is an integral part of nonverbal conversation. If you slouch, you run the risk of looking a little too relaxed and may portray a casual, not bothered attitude. But similarly, sitting rigid with your fists tightly clutched in your lap, makes you look too stiff and nervous. Neither of which make a very good impression on the hiring manager.

At an interview, sit firmly and lean your back straight against the chair as a signal of assurance and confidence. As the conversation progresses, you can lean in slightly to show that you’re engaged. 

If you're having a bit of trouble with your nerves, this tip may actually help you. Many studies have shown that you can trick your brain into thinking you're confident if you show it with your body.

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

Following on from the first tip, make sure you don't have to hunch to look at the screen. It may help to put something under the screen to lift it up higher. Do a practice video call if you're unsure of how you look on camera or how your set-up performs.

 

Lack of eye contact

Making eye contact with the interviewer is the best way to show that you’re actually paying attention to what they are saying and engaging with them. Avoid staring blankly at your interviewer, rather try to hold eye contact for a few seconds at a time. Wouldn't you feel uncomfortable if you thought someone was looking at you intensely? If you have more than one interviewer, be sure to make eye contact with all of them, with particular focus on the person who asked the question, or who is speaking.

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

If you have notes with you, make sure you're not reading them as if you're reading a script. This is not a memory test. Reading a script can make you seem more nervous and less capable.

Too much fidgeting

Touching your face, playing with your hair or twiddling your thumbs not only makes you look overly nervous, but it can distract the hiring manager.

If you're not sure of what to do with your hands, use them to gesture while speaking. Keep your personal gestures open and expressive and make sure your shoulders are relaxed and facing the interviewer to keep them involved in what you’re saying.

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

Clear your desk of things you might play with. Put your phone on silent and make sure your housemates or family know that you're going into an interview so you don't have any unexpected interruptions.

Being overzealous

An interview is a formal situation and should be treated as such. The hiring manager should be treated with respect and authority, so don’t be too familiar with them straight off at the bat. Be aware of their personal space, don’t stand too close and certainly do not hug them. Don’t make too much intense eye contact as you may make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, go for "direct face contact," and look at different parts of their hiring manager’s face to ensure you look interested and engaged.

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

Something to note with video interviews is that there is sometimes a slight delay in when the person has stopped speaking and when you finish hearing what they're saying. So give the interviewer some time to completely finish asking their question before you respond. No one likes to be interrupted while they're speaking.

Frowning

Just like having poor posture, your body language can impact how your brain thinks it's supposed to feel. Smiling can actually help you relax and feel less tense. At an interview, you want to seem friendly and approachable. The simplest way to do this is to smile! When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget to smile, but frowning gives off a negative vibe, which can affect your rapport with the hiring manager.

Smile agreeably and nod where appropriate. Laugh when the interviewer does to show you have a personality and you’re paying attention to what’s being said.

Bonus Tip: Video Interviews

No point taking on this tip if no one can see you! It's a good idea to have a bright source of light facing you rather than coming from behind. Otherwise, you'll look dark and the interviewer won't be able to see you properly.

 

It’s fair to say that no one really looks forward to a job interview. Trying to strike the balance between being confident, but not obnoxious and intelligent but not a know-it-all can be a difficult line to negotiate. That’s why body language is so important … Be sure to use it to your advantage at your next job interview.

 

For more interview tips check out these blogs:

Interview Tips: Do's & Dont's

Questions You May Be Asked In An Interview

Questions To Ask In An Interview