During a job interview, the way you present yourself is just as important as what you say. Body language is an important indicator of your comfort, confidence and interest for interviewers. Be aware of your body language in your next interview to make the best possible impression. In this article, we discuss what body language is, explain why it's important during an interview and provide a comprehensive list of body language tips for your next interview.
What is body language?
Body language is the way you communicate your feelings with your posture, gestures, facial expressions and movements. Body language is usually subconscious, but with practice, you can learn to control your body language and project confidence to those around you.
Why is body language during an interview important?
Your body language during a job interview projects your emotions to the interviewer. There are certain movements and body positions that indicate negative emotions like nervousness or disdain, while others project interest and ease. Neutral or positive body language allows the interviewer to focus on what you are saying rather than how you look. When the interviewer can easily process what you are saying, you are more likely to be called back with a job offer.
Related: 7 Items To Bring To a Job Interview
How to use body language to project confidence in your job interview
If you want your body language to project confidence in your next job interview, follow these steps:
- Prepare in private.
- Be aware in the waiting room.
- Maintain good posture.
- Keep your palms open.
- Use effective eye contact.
- Be responsive.
1. Prepare in private
Confident people are prepared. When you arrive at your interview, take some time to gather your documents, put your phone on silent and review any information before you enter the building. As soon as you walk inside, you will be interacting with company employees, and you immediately want to project confidence to them. Gather your thoughts and materials in a private place.
2. Be aware in the waiting room
Waiting for the interview to begin may seem like a great time to catch up on emails or send a text, but your time would be better spent introducing yourself to the receptionist and waiting patiently. If you're able to, choose a seat where you can see the door you think the interviewer will enter through so there is no awkwardness when they come in.
3. Maintain good posture
Once you are in the actual interview, keep your posture upright. Choose a straight-backed chair if possible, and keep your chin up and shoulders down. Great posture displays confidence.
4. Keep your palms open
You can use your hands to talk if that is natural for you, but make sure you keep your palms open as you do so. Open, upward-facing palms demonstrate you have nothing to hide and are confident in what you are saying.
5. Use effective eye contact
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. Always maintain eye contact when shaking hands.
6. Be responsive
Nod and smile to indicate you are listening to the interviewer when they are speaking. These actions show you understand what the interviewer is saying and agree with their statements.
Tips for maintaining good body language during an interview
Keep the following tips in mind during your next interview to make sure your body language indicates confidence, positivity and interest:
- Handshake: You will likely shake hands with the interviewer. Your handshake should be firm and last a second or two.
- Posture: Be aware of your posture at all times. Keep your shoulders back and down and your chin lifted. Practice this posture regularly so it is comfortable for you.
- Leg position: Your legs should be still and uncrossed if possible. Crossing your legs may become uncomfortable, meaning you will need to stretch them out during the interview. This discomfort could be misinterpreted as disinterest in the interview.
- Restlessness: If you have a nervous habit like jiggling your leg or tapping the table, do your best to suppress it. Restless habits can be distracting and may demonstrate nervousness or disinterest to the interviewer.
- Hand position: If you are seated at a table or desk for the interview, keep your hands visible. This will demonstrate you have nothing to hide. If you are in a chair with nothing in front of you, keep your hands in your lap with the palms visible to indicate openness.
- Eye contact: Eye contact should be moderated. Too little eye contact gives the appearance of nervousness, while too much is aggressive. Pretend you are having a comfortable conversation with a friend during the interview to guide your eye contact.
- Where to sit: When in the waiting room, choose a chair that gives you the best visibility of people coming and going so you won't be caught unawares by the interviewer. In the interview, if given a choice of seats, choose a seat that will allow you to maintain excellent posture and able to comfortably make eye contact with everyone in the room.
- Your personal items: If you have a briefcase or purse, set it on the floor by your side so you can easily grab it and shake hands with the hiring manager once the interview is over. If you plan to provide any documents or take notes, get those items out of your bag as soon as you enter the room so you don't disrupt the flow of conversation.
- Mirror: We naturally tend to mirror the people with whom we are speaking. Be aware of this and mirror the interviewer's body language to set them at ease.
- Walking: Walk smoothly and confidently between the waiting area and the interview room. Maintain excellent posture while walking and firmly hold on to your belongings so you don't drop anything.
- Breathe deeply: Deep, even breaths calm the body and may help reduce the desire to perform nervous actions like jiggling your leg or drumming on your arm.
- Responsiveness: Show you are interested in what the interviewer is saying by smiling, nodding and leaning forward when they are speaking.