What the Hell Are You Saying? Interview Body Language

Posted: 11/27/2010 in Interviewing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m sure you know that nonverbal cues are much more significant in terms of communication than verbal ones (according to one study at UCLA, about 93%). Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice your interview questions ad nauseum, or that you should become so obsessed with what every part of your body is doing during an interview that you become totally spastic. It does mean that you want to pay some attention to stuff like how you’re sitting, and make sure those nervous tics are in check.

Here are some nonverbal don’ts to be aware of:

  • Make sure your hands aren’t flailing all over the place as you’re talking. And especially when you’re not talking, ‘cuz that’d make you look REALLY wacko.
  • Sit up straight like your mom, dad, big brother or childhood guardian told you to. Nothing makes you look less confident than hunching over in your chair like Quasimodo in a suit.
  • Watch the nervous leg jiggle. Okay, the interviewer knows you’re a bit nervous; that’s okay. But you don’t want to look like you’re going through Xanax withdrawal.
  • For God’s sake, don’t do the “I will establish rapport with the interviewer by mirroring their body language” thing. It’s just creepy.
  • Smile naturally, but no fixed smiles like you’re a crazy person.
  • Don’t touch your face incessantly, play with your hair, or engage in other distracting nervous habits.
  • Don’t sit too casually — you know, with your legs open like you’re trying to catch a breeze, or your arm nonchalantly draped over the chair like a teenage boy on a date.
  • Look ’em in the eye. Or the eyebrow, same difference. If you don’t, you’ll look like you’re   a. pathologically shy,   b. a pathological liar, or   c. pathological in general.
  1. Andrew Hall says:

    Nice post. I’ve interviewed people before who had no idea that their body language was off-putting.


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