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AVOID this body language during an interview!

Interview Body Language

According to a recent study by Career Builder, a large US recruitment site, nearly half of interviewers will decide whether to hire someone within the first 5-15 minutes of meeting them - with body language cited as one of the most influential factors. If you want to improve your chances of success, here are the gestures you should avoid the most:

1. Making small adjustments

If you find yourself adjusting your tie, collar, watch, ornaments, hair or touching your neck during an interview, it’s a sign that you’re nervous and in need of some space.

2. Placing your briefcase, handbag or notebook in front of your chest

Similar to crossing your arms, this can be seen as using obstacles to ‘defend’ yourself, which is a sign that you’re not particularly easy to get along with.

3. Keeping your lips shut tight or constantly licking them

The greater the anxiety, the tighter we close our lips which leads to an unintentional bitter facial expression. Nervousness also leads to dryer lips causing us to subconsciously lick them from time to time.

4. Rubbing, stretching and crossing your hands

We tend to rub our hands together to relieve stress and in an interview scenario it can be sign of low confidence. Similarly bringing your hands together in a prayer like movement can show that you’re worried about something. If you find yourself stretching your hands, it’s a sign of frustration.

5. Hands in pockets

This shows you’re hiding something or feel a lack of security.

6. Shrug only one shoulder

This often-subconscious gesture shows a lack in confident in what’s being said or discussed.

7. Lounging

You shouldn’t sit the same way you do when watching television at home, not only is an overly relaxed posture perceived as a lack of respect, but it’s also seen as a dominating and aggressive gesture in an interview scenario.

8. Crossing your ankles, or wrapping your legs around the chair

This is a typical static behavioral reflex when we anticipate something negative is about to occur and sure sign of anxiety.

9. Rubbing your knees with your palms

This is a sign that you feel under tremendous pressure and that you’re looking for some relief.

10. Smiling with your mouth closed

Remembering to smile is extremely important in an interview but smiling with your mouth closed can be perceived as less genuine than smiling with your mouth open. A natural smile lifts the sides of your cheeks and contracts the muscles around the eyes. There’s no better gesture for showing your genuine good will to an interviewer.

Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at Career Builder suggests that research and preparation help candidates the most when trying to stay calm during an interview. This includes practicing common questions with friends or family members beforehand. She goes on to state “The key is to be well prepared and confident enough to calm yourself down”.

Lastly, you should also observe the body language of your interviewer, if they’re yawning, rubbing their eyes, looking at their watch or changing their posture frequently it’s a sign they no longer want to receive information or want to leave the room. Remember to keep your answers short and concise with some natural improvisation to help your interviewer relate to you.

Naomi Chan

Career Coach and professional career hacker at Team Vanna

4 min read

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