The fundamentals of body language in job interviews

In the following blog article, you will learn how to tailor your body language to a job interview in order to leave a positive impression.

© Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock 

Body language in a job interview gives the interviewer a great deal of information that is not conveyed by the spoken word alone. It reveals whether the candidate is confident, goal-oriented, and focused – or indeed, whether the candidate might actually be bored, insecure, or nervous.

Consistent body language provides an opportunity to convince the interviewer of your worth as a candidate, as up to 93% of human communication is actually conveyed via body language. In addition to gestures, facial expressions, and posture, the volume and tone of your voice play a role. Only 7% of our total attention is actually given over to content itself.

You are what you wear

It is a well-known fact that clothing can say a lot about your attitude and your confidence with respect to the position you are applying for, which is why you should find out about the business’s dress code in advance of the interview. Quite apart from your outfit, it is an absolute must that you have a well-groomed appearance. This means clean shoes, well cared-for fingernails and combed hair. A sloppy appearance can leave a bad taste in the potential employer’s mouth even before the interview has started. So, when it comes to job interviews, the clothes make the man!

Man wearing a suit, with a watch

You are what you wear – and that goes for job interviews, too – © Pixaby; Pexels

The right greeting makes a good impression

Even the greeting in a job interview says a lot about you. There are good reasons why people say that first impressions matter. Alongside the visual impression that you give, eye contact, a firm handshake, and your posture say a lot about you as a candidate. Greet your interviewer with a short, firm handshake - accompanied, crucially, by eye contact and a friendly smile. This will help you to give the impression that you are a self-confident person who is genuinely pleased to meet someone new.

Eye contact is a sign of openness and interest

Eye contact signals to your opposite number during the interview that you are interested and open, whereas if you avert your gaze, it shows uncertainty, a lack of interest, or simply that you are not paying attention. That does not mean that you should stare intently at your interviewer. As a rule of thumb, successful eye contact means holding your gaze for at least a second, but no more than three seconds. If you are engaged in conversation with several people, it is important to ensure that you primarily maintain eye contact with the person who asked the question. You should, however, maintain some eye contact with the other people in the room. That shows interest and helps you to secure their attention.

Upright posture signals confidence and strength

Even though most interviews are held in a seated position, body language is nevertheless critically important in determining how your interviewer perceives you. Adopt an open posture and sit upright. A twisted upper body can have negative effects on the power of your voice. Additionally, you should use the entire surface of the seat. If you sit on the edge your chair, you’ll come across as tense and unsure of yourself. Body language is not only important in face-to-face interviews; it also makes a difference in telephone interviews. This may sound paradoxical at first; after all, the interviewer cannot see anything over the phone. Body language nevertheless has an effect on your voice. The same rules apply as in traditional, face-to-face interviews: sit upright and, if possible, imagine that you are engaged in a face-to-face conversation, as this will help you to concentrate. Even a subtle smile during your phone call will make you come across as more likeable.

A job applicant during her interview.

A firm handshake makes all the difference. – © Pixaby; 089photoshootings

Saying goodbye – your last chance to win them over

Just as you would when greeting them, reach out your hand to your interviewer once again, making sure to maintain eye contact, and say goodbye with a smile and plenty of self-confidence – and be sincere about it! Walk out of the building with an upright posture and keep your body taut until you are out of sight. Only then will your body language stop communicating about you, and only then can you afford to relax.

From facial expressions through to gestures and posture, greeting rituals and goodbyes, as humans, we communicate nonverbally during every second of our lives, and that includes your interview for your next job.

Do you have any more tips for the right body language during your interview? I’m looking forward to discussing this topic further.


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