About your body language

When you are at an interview you would think that the employer is only paying attention to the words you are saying. This is only partially true because he is also looking for body signals to tell him more about you. What he is looking for is 'body language'.

Good and Bad Body Language

Body language is one of the many nonverbal ways a person communicates with other people. There is good body language and bad body language. This relates to the body signals that tell the employer your true interest and meaning during the interview.

  • Good Body Language - this shows the employer that you are interested in the position and are connected to what the employer wants.
  • Bad Body Language - this shows either a disconnected feeling where you don't really care about the interview or the employer, or you are nervous and hiding something from the employer.

How do you ensure you present good body language during an interview? Below are listed some common right, and wrong, things to do and what they communicate to the employer about you.

What to Do

Here are some body signals that will help you during the interview:

  • Sit fairly straight in the chair - this shows alertness and attentiveness
  • Use a slightly forward lean during the interview - this shows interest in what the employer wants and has to say
  • Keep the hands open and away from the body - this shows openness and honesty
  • Gesture frequently if it is natural - this shows involvement and enthusiasm

What Not to Do

Here are some body signals which you want to avoid:

  • Fidget with your body or hands - this shows nervousness or that you might be hiding something
  • Squirm or reposition yourself often - again, nervousness and the feeling that you would rather be some place else
  • Clench your hands together - this shows possible anger problems
  • Talk with hands closed in a fist - see above

General Tips

A few other considerations to avoid at a job interview when it comes to bad body language:

  • Don't sit with your arms folded as you appear unfriendly or disengaged
  • Lean you body towards a door; you will appear as if you are getting ready to run away
  • Stare blankly as this is a sign of people who are trying to distance themselves
  • Don't do any of the following because of an apparent lack of focus; rock back in the chair, shake your foot, drum fingers or pay attention to anything but the person across the table.

Some considerations for good body language:

  • At the end of the interview, always stand and smile
  • Always offer your hand first for the handshake as it shows friendliness and a positive attitude
  • Move with confidence and purpose from the moment you enter the building to the moment you leave
  • Establish a comfortable amount of personal space so as not to seem intrusive or stand-offish

When practising your interview skills, make note of any body signals you are sending. Practice your introduction and other motions in a mirror to catch any bad body language you may be presenting. Use good body language even at the practice sessions to get them right.