Body language mistakes in interviews

Body language mistakes in interviews

You’ve got a flawless resume, an impressive cover letter and a successful phone interview, which all got you through the door and landed you an interview. Interview day comes and you’ve prepared well, done your company research, perfected every last word of your presentation and picked up your suit from the dry cleaners. What could go wrong?  Sometimes, all it takes to blow the interview is a weak handshake or bad posture.

As the interviewer takes a moment to review your resume, you start nervously tapping the foot of your crossed leg to a beat in your head as you bite your lower lip. Your hands begin to fidget and you start picking at the loose cuticle around your thumbnail. You slouch down in the chair as he finishes reading through your resume. You may be very unaware that you are doing any of this, but unfortunately the interviewer is picking up on all of it.

Body language can have a big impact on the way you are perceived by others, especially in a work environment.  You may think you look and feel confident but that is not what your audience sees. Instead they are looking at someone who appears nervous, lacks confidence and feels out of place.  The quality of your content may be good but our body language can tell an interviewer as much if not more than our words as to whether we feel we are qualified for the position.

So what are the body language mistakes we all make in interviews?

Weak Handshake

A weak handshake may tell the interviewer that you're nervous, shy, and that you lack confidence. Ideally, your handshake should be firm, but not overbearing. 

Bad Posture

Leaning back in your chair can make you appear either lazy or arrogant. Leaning forward can make you look too eager or aggressive. Your posture is a key indicator of how you're feeling. When we slouch, we're attempting to make ourselves smaller and draw less attention. Experts say your best bet in an interview is to sit up straight in the chair, without letting your back touch the back of the chair. This position changes the chemicals in our brain to make us feel stronger and more confident, and it gives the outward appearance of credibility, strength, and vitality.

Avoiding Eye Contact

Failing to make solid eye contact can make you appear to be nervous and unconfident. Instead, focus on holding interviewer's gaze for a second when shaking hands. But not too long, otherwise that would be an awkward stare! It not only makes you appear more self-assured, it also makes your words that much more engaging. During the interview pay attention and maintain good eye contact. It shows authenticity, sincerity and genuine interest in the role.

Shifting your feet

If you're constantly rocking on your heels or shifting your standing position, you will look fidgety and apprehensive. So plant your feet shoulder width apart (as long as it feels comfortable!) and focus on staying there.


The nervous energy you display whether with finger nail biting, shifting in your chair too much or crossing and uncrossing and crossing your legs again and again will distract the interviewer and look like you are lacking confidence.

Playing with something on the table

Same as the above! Just keep your hands on your lap and only use them to do slight gestures while you are talking.

Crossed arms

Crossing your arms in front of your chest makes you look defensive and hostile. You should appear open and approachable, which means your hands should be in front of you and ready to gesture naturally.

Playing with hair

This same applies here as the fidgeting. This can make you come across nervous and for some, even flirtatious!

Touching face/ covering mouth

Touching your face and putting your hand near your face while you talk can make the interviewer think you are nervous and lack self-confidence. Plus it distracts the interviewer and makes it hard to hear what you are trying to say. You need to show the interviewer that you are qualified and confident that you are capable of doing the job on offer.

Lastly, Not smiling!

At an interview, you want to seem friendly and approachable. The simplest way to do this is to smile! When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget to smile, but frowning gives off a negative vibe. If you are discussing your future role and your face lacks expression then interviewers may see this as a lack of sincerity and basically, someone grumpy that they don’t want to work with!

tags: interview tips, recruitment tips, career advice, career progression


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