6 Body Language Tips for Your Next Interview (With Alternatives)

Updated February 3, 2023

During a job interview, the way you may present yourself can signal relevant cues to a hiring manager. Body language is one of many ways that you may be able to indicate your comfort, confidence and interest in a company and its open role.

While many factors can help you make a good impression during an interview—including arriving on time, being polite and preparing concise responses—the suggestions in this article do not mean to imply that body language alone will make a good impression or that everyone needs to be able to use body language to convey confidence.

In this article, we define body language, provide alternative suggestions to body language and explain how you may be able to effectively use body language and other forms of nonverbal communication during an interview.

What is body language?

Body language is a nonverbal form of communication that some people use to express their feelings with posture, gestures, facial expressions or other movements and mannerisms. Body language is usually subconscious, but if you make an effort to recognize and understand some of these cues or other forms of nonverbal communication, you may be able to more effectively project confidence to those around you.

For instance, during a job interview, you can use neutral or positive body language as one way to allow your interviewer to focus on what you’re communicating. 

Related: 7 Items To Bring To a Job Interview

Alternatives to body language

Because some people may not be able to use body language in the same way as others, it’s important to remember some alternatives. Other types of nonverbal communication include augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) through unaided and aided modes of communication, such as American Sign Language or digital devices

It’s also important to be aware of how some forms of body language, such as gestures, may have different meanings. For example, while the “OK” sign typically made with the hand using a thumb and index finger has long had negative connotations in some countries, it was generally considered positive in the United States and some other English-speaking areas until 2017. Today, this symbol has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League as needing additional evaluation due to its recent associations with racist groups.

How to use nonverbal communication in your job interview

If you want to project confidence in your next job interview, follow these six tips on body language and other nonverbal cues:

1. Be prepared and arrive on time

When you arrive at your interview in person or attend virtually, take some time to gather your documents, put your phone on silent and review any information about the job, hiring team and company. As soon as you enter your interview setting, you may be interacting with company employees, so you want to feel ready to introduce yourself. Try to limit your time spent catching up on personal emails or text messages while you wait for your interviewer to arrive. 

2. Be responsive

Consider nonverbal cues to indicate you’re listening to the interviewer when they’re speaking, such as nodding and smiling, leaning forward or vocalizing. These actions show you understand what the interviewer is saying and agree with their statements.

3. Use effective eye contact or alternatives

In terms of eye contact, treat the interviewer like an old friend. Make eye contact with them regularly, but look away when it feels natural to do so, too. If you’re shaking someone’s hand, maintain eye contact with them.

For some people, eye contact is uncomfortable or not appropriate. Consider nonverbal communication or vocalizations, such as “uh-huh,” to indicate your interest or communicate your feelings.

Read more: ​​Why Eye Contact Is Important (With 8 Tips and Alternatives)

4. Evaluate your body language

If you’re entering a room, you may want to adjust your posture as appropriate. As you are seated, if you choose to cross your legs it may become uncomfortable and the need to stretch may be misinterpreted as potential disinterest to your interviewer. Some types of habits typically associated with restlessness or nervousness, such as jiggling your leg or tapping the table, may also be distracting. While you do not need to disclose to your interviewer if you have a disability, you may feel comfortable doing so if any body language or other nonverbal cues may be misunderstood.

If able, consider mirroring your interviewer’s body language as your conversation flows. If it’s natural for you to use your hands to talk, keep your palms open as you do so. Open, upward-facing palms demonstrate you have nothing to hide and are confident in what you’re saying.

5. Take deep breaths

A deep, even breath may help calm your mind and body before and even during your interview as you pause between answering questions. One form of deep breathing, called “box breathing” because of its alignment with the four sides of a box, consists of slowly counting to four for a total of four times while you inhale, hold, exhale and then hold again for a total of four seconds each.

6. Don’t forget your personal items

If interviewing in person, ensure your personal items are accessible should you need them. For example, if you plan to take notes, keep a notepad or device nearby and ready to use. If you regularly use an aided mode of communication and would like to use it to take notes, ask your interviewer if it is OK to record.

Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.

Explore more articles

  • 11 Jobs in Law You Can Get Without a Law Degree
  • How To Become a Writer for a TV Show (With Steps and Salary)
  • Why Finding a Job Is So Hard (Key Reasons and Tips)
  • How To Find Jobs That Sponsor H-1B Visas in the US
  • 16 Second Careers for HR Professionals To Consider
  • How To Become a Laser Hair Removal Technician
  • How To Find No-Experience Data Analyst Jobs (With Tips)
  • Top 16 Jobs for an Information Systems Degree
  • 17 Types of Jobs in Civil Service (Plus Salaries)
  • ENTP Personality Types: Traits, Strengths and Careers
  • How To Become a Lawyer in Florida in 5 Steps (With Salary)
  • FAQ: Why Do Entry-Level Jobs Require Experience? (Plus Tips)