Body Language: Will It Make or Break Your Interview?

18 Oct

So you’ve mastered your résumé, perfected your cover letter, and landed an interview for the job position of your dreams. Only this interview stands between you and the new position. You have prepared extensively and feel ready to answer any question that the hiring manager might throw your direction. But, have you considered the importance of your body language and how it can speak louder than your résumé, cover letter, and interview question responses?

Whether you accept it or not, the fact of the matter is that body language can mean all the difference in an interview. This brings up an important question: what are the most common faults of body language and how can these faults ruin an interview? Look no further, I’ve come across a Forbes article by Jacquelyn Smith that addresses many of the various body language miscues. I’ll admit I’m guilty of committing some of the following…are you?

  • The Handshake: The handshake represents the beginning of an interview and is an opportunity to start on a positive note. It is important that you have an appropriate grip –there is nothing worse than meeting someone for the first time and getting a weak “dead fish” handshake, it demonstrates a lack of confidence or even indifference. You do not want to crush the interviewer’s hand either; applying as much pressure as the interviewer is the best method.
  • Crossed Arms: This is a simple fault to avoid, as it makes you seem overconfident or uncomfortable. Also, if your arms are crossed, this limits your ability to incorporate hand motions. Ultimately there will be less emphasis on what you say and you won’t seem engaged in the interview.
  • Posture in the Hot Seat: Sitting up and having good posture throughout the interview is imperative. Slouching is an easy way to appear uninterested and unconfident.
  • Behavior in the Hot Seat: As we already know, hand motions can be effective. However, negative hand motions such as playing with your hair or touching your face can be distracting. Also, this should be given, but checking your phone during an interview is inappropriate and even disrespectful.
  • Eye Contact: You should maintain eye contact, especially when the interviewer is talking. Don’t stare down the interviewer, but don’t avoid eye contact either; find a comfortable medium. Eye contact is simply another way to connect with the interviewer and should be taken advantage of.
  • Facial Expression: Don’t be afraid to smile. You don’t have to overdo it; in fact, it should be subtle, but a lack of expression just makes you seem nervous or unfriendly. A simple smile not only shows that you’re comfortable, but it displays your interest and excitement at the prospect of landing the job that you’re interviewing for.

Oftentimes, problems with body language arise from confidence issues. The best way to improve upon this is by simply practicing interview situations. With practice, you can identify areas in which you struggle and you can address those issues accordingly. Remember: you want your body language to contribute to your appeal; let it be a selling point in your interview!

by Matt Kenahan


One Response to “Body Language: Will It Make or Break Your Interview?”

  1. Sarah McDonald October 19, 2011 at 12:22 am #


    This blog post is timely because many students are currently interviewing for internships and full time positions. As David McNeill, a University of Chicago professor of psychology and linguistics, said, “To study language by listening only to utterances…is to miss as much as 75 percent of the meaning.” We must pay attention to our non-verbal communication if we want to convey 100 percent of our passion for the position during our interviews.

    It is also important to note that we should begin monitoring our body language before the interview even begins. I have noticed that many students, myself included, sit in the waiting room before an interview with anxiety and terror on their faces. Many students do not realize that their interviewer sees their body language even before they meet, shake hands, or sit down for an interview. First impressions matter and we should all be aware of our posture from the moment we enter the Career Center.

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