Job Interview Tips Professional Development

7 Common Body Language Mistakes People Make During Interviews

Written by Jessie Liu

You may talk a big game, but you might be surprised to know that talking makes up a small part of human communication. Some people are great listeners, but by nature, we receive more information from our eyes than from our ears. When it comes to job interviews, even with the perfect outfit, amazing credentials, and a fantastic introduction, if your body language is poor, you’re damaging your chances of landing the job!

Here are seven body language mistakes to avoid.

1. Slouching

It doesn’t matter how comfortable the chair is—sinking into it will give a bad impression. Sit and stand upright, and hold your shoulders back. If you look too relaxed, your interviewer may get the impression that you aren’t taking the interview seriously, and in turn, won’t take the job seriously.

2. Getting fidgety

Fidgeting is a nervous habit for many of us. Interviews are very trying on your nerves, especially if you’re particularly excited about the prospective job. Refrain from fidgeting—no jittery, nervous hands or bouncing legs. Keep yourself calm.

3. Forgetting to make eye contact

Eye contact and trustworthiness go hand in hand. When establishing a connection with your interviewer, you should make eye contact. On the other hand, staring into someone’s eyes without taking a break can read as creepy and make your interviewer uncomfortable, so just make eye contact for a few seconds here and there while you’re speaking.

4. Nodding excessively

You may want to seem agreeable, but constantly nodding while someone is speaking can actually give them the impression you’re merely waiting for them to finish talking because you have something to say. If your interviewer feels like you’re rushing them through, they’ll get the impression you don’t care about the current conversation. Listen attentively without moving around. Just focus on the information being relayed to you.

5. Crossing your arms

If the chair you’re sitting in doesn’t have armrest, it can be difficult to figure out where to put your arms. Crossing them may translate as hostile, as you’re metaphorically closing yourself off from the situation. Fold your hands and place them in your lap, or better yet, carry a notepad and a pen so you can jot down important things. Give your hands something to do that isn’t distracting.

6. Not showing expression

When someone’s meeting you for the first time, they may not be familiar with your subtleties. A quick wit and clever jokes are usually appreciated in most social settings, but it’s important that the person you’re talking to knows how to interpret your humor. Your facial expressions need to match your desired intention—this means smiling, raising your eyebrows, or making other emotive gestures that match your dialogue.

7. Breaking the bubble of personal space

There are certain formalities that involve people being close, such as handshakes, or even high fives, depending on the culture of the company you’re interviewing for. What’s important is that physical closeness is limited only to these occasions. Never lean over the desk or stand too close to your interviewer. You might think you’re coming across as friendly, but you could be making someone uncomfortable.

When you’re running through your example interview questions and preparing your answers, try delivering them in front of a mirror as you watch your body language. If you want to hit home with your delivery, you need to present yourself as the complete package.

Kelly Smith is an experienced writer and tutor working at Career FAQs. She’s keen on new motivational tools and productivity hacks. She’s also interested in the new media.

About the author

Jessie Liu

Jessie Liu is a digital marketer, specializing in SEO, Digital Analytics, Content Marketing and Social Media. She helps lead TheJobNetwork’s content marketing efforts, including content strategy and promotion strategy. She believes in data-driven decision making. She recently adopted a Beagle mix puppy named Happy. Feel free to tweet her @jessiecliu for pictures of her adorable new puppy or just any marketing related stuff.