Did you know that just over half of all our communication is pure body language? It’s nowhere near the 93% you might have heard it is, but the way you hold and portray yourself in conversation is still extremely important. In fact, if you’re applying for roles, you may have heard that crafting the perfect interview body language is particularly vital.
When you attend a job interview, you are selling yourself. All your experience, all your passion, all your talent – it all boils down to a few short moments with an interviewer. Therefore, you not only have to be careful with the words you use, but also how you conduct yourself.
Thankfully, there are a few great ways to easily portray confidence and enthusiasm during an interview. Consider this an essential step as part of your wider interview preparation, no matter the role.
Why Is Body Language So Important?
Interviewers can’t read your mind – but what they can read is your attitude and your emotions. That’s because we all show how we feel, not necessarily what we think, through body language.
For example, we may cross our arms when we feel defensive. Our eyes may dart around the room if we feel nervous, or we may fumble with our hands.
Here are a few points to further explain why interviewers look at body language as a priority:
- Your body language shows how interested you are in a position
- Negative interview body language can be very distracting for a recruiter
- Your body language can either exude confidence or put up walls. Guess which the recruiter finds most appealing!
- Poor body language control can appear unprofessional
- Your body can even give away if you're being dishonest – or are outright lying
A recruiter will want to verify the facts you provide to them in your resume. They’ll ask you questions about your experience and will want to know why you want to work there.
If you come across as distant, uninterested, or even slightly indicate that you’re dishonest, it’s a very quick way to get rejected. Your body language during an interview will help to confirm or deny any doubts a recruiter may have about you.
Of course – the best thing to do is always to be honest. Even better, it’s a great idea to take a few deep breaths and to feel free to talk about your experience. We’ll be looking at some great techniques a little further down, including those that also work well in video interviews.
What Your Interview Body Language Says About You
Believe it or not, you can actually learn a lot about yourself from your own body language. You may already be aware that you show some of the following habits – and they might be giving you away in your job interviews! Here are some common tics and traits we’re all guilty of from time to time, but which you’ll do well to avoid showing to a recruiter.
Avoiding Eye Contact. Avoiding someone’s eyes during conversation can be a defense mechanism. However, it can give the impression that you’re just not interested.
Too Much Eye Contact. This is another interview body language no-no – staring at your recruiter might appear very aggressive. There has to be a balance. As Victoria Sayo Turner explains, getting eye contact ‘right’ is often a very emotional experience. Don’t worry – you are not alone!
Crossing Your Arms. Some people find arm crossing comfortable, but it's the ultimate pose of defiance and defensiveness. When you cross your arms in a job interview, you are telling your recruiter that it’s ‘your way or the highway’.
Holding Back Natural Movement. While you definitely shouldn’t be cracking your knuckles during a job interview, you also shouldn’t hold back expressive movement, either. Keeping very still or inexpressive is a sign of nervousness and can also show a lack of confidence.
Slouching / Slumping. Sitting up straight isn’t just good manners. It shows you’re listening and that you’re receptive. Slumping forward or leaning too casually might show you’re relaxed, but it might also show you don’t care too much.
Touching Your Face. Believe it or not, face touching can be a major ‘tell’ if you’re dishonest. If it’s a nervous tic, it’s easier to understand – but interviewers are cautious around face touchers!
6 Ways To Improve Your Job Interview Body Language
Once you’ve learned how to introduce yourself effectively, it’s time to start working on that perfect interview body language. Don’t worry! It’s natural to feel nervous going into an interview. However, here are a few interview body language tips you can try to appear more natural, more confident, and more at ease.
#1: Find Your Eye Contact Balance
As mentioned, too much or too little eye contact can throw off the whole interview. The key is to look away when it feels most natural to do so. Think of your recruiter as someone you’ve known for a long time. The sooner you don’t see them as a threat, the easier this becomes.
#2: Don’t Hold Back What’s Natural
Again, natural movement is a huge positive in job interviews. If you appear too stiff or too held-back your interviewer will start wondering why. If you love to gesticulate, then go right ahead! Just don’t idly fumble with your buttons or fall back into nervous habits.
#3: Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to job interview body language, practice really helps – and one of the best ways to do this is to set up a mock interview with a friend or colleague. You could even try interviewing yourself in the mirror or record yourself and see your own behavior for yourself!
#4: Be Responsive
Responsiveness is such a huge win in interview situations. Show that you're interested in what your recruiter has to say. Polite nods, smiles at relevant points in conversation, and relevant eye contact will all help.
#5: Take An Open Stance
Recruiters are more likely to feel connected with a candidate that’s ‘physically open’. By this, I mean avoiding crossing anything – arms, legs, and hands. Try to lean forward just a little, keep your chin raised and your shoulders back.
#6: Perfect That Handshake
That classic handshake really means everything, and its success comes down to how you deliver it. It’s the first true icebreaker of the meeting – and you’ll want to shake firmly, without aggression, with eye contact and a smile.
Job interview body language might be one of the last things you think about before you head into a meeting. But don't let poor body control stand between you and getting the job you want.
Nervousness heading into interviews is to be expected. However, practicing great body language could help you to feel calmer on the inside, too. Why not double-up your preparation and practice a few icebreaker questions?