Body Language: What to Do and What to Avoid During an Interview

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When you go into an interview and whenever you meet someone new, it takes them 5 to 30 seconds to form an opinion about you based on first impressions. 

Of course, this opinion evolves over time, but it’s the foundation of what they think and how they feel about you. 

In the environment of an interview of any kind, you want to be in control of that first impression. Preparing answers to the most common questions and knowing what you want to say is important. 

But your body language can speak louder than words, so that’s why I bring you a guide about what you should and shouldn’t do during an interview to have control of this initial impression and have a better chance of getting what you want. 

Do This

  • Enter the Room With Confidence

As soon as you walk in the building, people will start making assumptions about you. By entering the room confidently, you’re showing that you can carry yourself well. You’re not nervous because you’re a professional and you know you have something of value to offer. You’re trying them on for size as much as they’re trying you on for size. 

  • Give a Firm Handshake

This is a classic. Handshakes say a lot about who you are; give a limp handshake and you come off as submissive, use too much force and it will seem like you’re overcompensating. That’s why you need to keep it in the middle. Give a firm handshake, hold it for a few seconds and then let go. 

  • Mind Your Posture

Your posture is a big part of what it means to look confident and professional. Sitting up straight is key, but avoid being stiff and fidgeting with your legs. Lean forward ever so slightly to signal you’re paying attention, but remain mindful of your posture. 

  • Hold Eye Contact

By holding eye contact with your interviewer as you answer their questions you’re showing them how confident and comfortable you are. You’re not intimidated or uncomfortable in your skin, you know exactly how to get your point across. If this is challenging for you, look at their nose or at the space between their eyes and hold it for ten seconds at a time. Don’t just stare at them like a crazy person, but show them you’re present. 

  • Use Your Smile

It’s not uncommon to feel a bit nervous during an interview, so smiling will be very helpful. You want to be charismatic, so using your smile will not only achieve that, but it will also help you relax and find comfort. 

  • User Your Hands But Not Too Much

Gesticulating with your hands can be helpful when you want to come off as charismatic and energetic, but too much of it can be distracting. If you find that overusing your hands is a problem when you’re nervous, ask the interviewer if you can take notes. This won’t only help you keep your hands still, but it will also show them you’re interested. 

Don’t Do This

  • Overconfidence

There’s a sweet spot when it comes to showing confidence. Too much of it and you look arrogant, which is not something you want your interviewer to believe. Walk in like you’re right for the job, but don’t assume you already have it. 

  • Slouching

It can be tempting to slouch in order to feel a bit more comfortable, but you’ll come across as uninterested and bored. You can have a good posture and still find comfort, but remember you’re not at home winding down; you’re in an interview. 

  • Stare

Many people struggle with eye contact quite a bit and it’s very difficult for them to maintain it in a natural way. The last thing you want to do is stare intensely at your interviewer. This will only make you seem nervous and a bit intense, so practice how to keep your eye contact natural and light. 

  • Fidgeting

If you’re fidgeting, you’re nervous. So try to keep your movement to a minimum. We don’t want you to be stiff, but don’t do disruptive things such as moving your leg nervously, playing with your hair or your pen, tapping your fingers, etc. This won’t only distract your interviewer, it will make you look like you can’t wait to get out of there. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, none of the tips on this list are unknown or uncommon. But that’s precisely what makes them so important to consider and to keep in mind whenever you walk into an interview. 60% of first impressions are based on body language, so paying attention to these common rules and practicing them before an interview will help you make a great impression. 

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