Using Body Language in a Job Interview

Interview Body Language Studies suggest that 60% of the impression we make during our communication with others comes from the use of our body language. Our body language and facial expressions reveal more about us than the actual words we say. The words we speak may be saying one thing, whereas our body language may be imparting something totally different.


It’s important that what we say and the signals we give out, remain congruent and in harmony with one another, especially in a job interview situation. This article examines how to use body language in a job interview to build rapport and trust with an interviewer and leave a lasting and positive impression.



A smile is the easiest way to communicate friendliness and confidence to someone you are meeting for the first time. When you first meet your interviewer, shake their hand, as you introduce yourself and smile sincerely to show that you are pleased to meet them. An inexperienced interviewer may be just as nervous as you are, so a warm smile will put them at ease, make you feel good and help get the meeting off to a positive start.


A heartfelt smile shows in your eyes, so your smile needs to be genuine and not forced. A false grin is easily spotted and can seem disingenuous to the other person. Smile throughout the interview, but don’t over do it. You don’t want to come across like a crazed Cheshire cat. If you are faced with a stern interviewer, don’t follow their lead or let them put you off, smile anyway.


The Handshake


When you first meet your interviewer, greet them with a firm handshake. A handshake is a respectful gesture that conveys friendliness and ease, but can also unconsciously reveal a lot more about you. A loose or limp handshake may make you come across as unconfident or even disinterested, whereas a handshake that’s too firm or tight, can make you seem overly competitive or aggressive.


The safest option is to let your interviewer guide you and respond with a grip matching theirs. The handshake should be brief, with only 2-3 pumps. Any longer than 3 seconds and the handshake risks making the other person uncomfortable. If you have sweaty palms, discreetly wipe your hand before the handshake. When accepting the handshake, remember to maintain eye contact and smile.


The Correct Sitting Posture


Never sit down before the interviewer invites you to. If they don’t invite you to sit, ask politely if you may do so. Place your briefcase on the floor beside your chair, not on your lap and never on the interviewer’s desk. Your body posture can reveal a great deal about how you feel about the meeting, including how nervous you are and even your opinion of the person interviewing you, so be sure to sit in a respectful manner.


Correct Interview Posture Make sure to sit upright and straight, while still remaining comfortable. A good tip is to try to align your shoulders with the shoulders of the interviewer. Finding something to do with your hands can sometimes feel awkward, so try to comfortably rest your arms on your chair or lap. Holding a pen and notepad can help if you don’t know what to do with your hands.


Never fold your arms or cross your legs, as this can make you look closed off and unapproachable. Maintain an open sitting posture, with both feet firmly on the floor.


It’s okay to be relaxed, but don’t slouch back in your chair or it may be viewed as arrogance. During the interview, avoid fidgeting in your chair, touching your face and hair or using too many hand gestures. It’s okay to lean forward occasionally, as this shows that you are interested and engaged in the conversation. Nodding your head in agreement to comments the interviewer makes can help demonstrate that you are both on the same page, however, as with all the tips in this article, do not over do it.


Making Eye Contact


Our eyes reveal a lot of what we are thinking and feeling, so it’s vitally important that we use eye contact to make a positive impression during an interview. People that make greater eye contact are thought to be more likable and confident, whereas people that avoid eye contact are often seen as either lacking confidence or having something to hide. Maintaining eye contact does not mean continuously staring at someone, as that can make the person on the receiving end very uncomfortable. You should break eye contact occasionally by looking up or to the side, as if you are thinking.