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10 Ways the Right Body Language
Helps You Land that Job

By Donna Jo

Your body language may make or break your interview. Study good body language and movements so you communicate confidence and competency.

Confident Posture

You're nervous before and during your job interview. That's completely normal. You don't have to admit your nervousness or betray it in your body language or speech.

Before your interview and during, maintain a relaxed posture, whether you're standing or sitting. Your back should be comfortably straight—not ramrod stiff. You want to give the impression that you feel comfortable. Make sure your chest is open, not closed off. Let your shoulders relax without slouching. Don't tuck your chin into your neck.

Fill Your Space

Whether you're standing in front of your interviewer or sitting at their desk, fill your space. Men, sit with your legs slightly parted. Ladies, stand with your feet slightly apart. If supervisors review their wireless security camera, they may be able to witness you owning your space.

"Filling your space" doesn't mean taking up more room than is yours to occupy. Avoid sprawling or spreading your legs far out while sitting down. Don't lean back in your chair and place your arm across the back. Here, you're taking up too much space.

Good Eye Contact

Make sure your head is up, looking at other people. Look your interviewer in the eyes, blinking and looking away occasionally. If you're worried that you're making too much eye contact, try to relax. Try to be natural in looking at others in the room.

Try not to look away too much or too often—your interviewer will think you have something to hide. At the same time, try not to stare. Look at your interviewer(s) as they are asking questions, then look away as you formulate your response.

Body Movements

Body language is an unspoken language. Most humans are able to decode and translate the unspoken cues we give out. Nod as you are listening, indicating that you understand what is being said. Smile (or even laugh) when appropriate.

Try not to fidget during your interview—this says you are nervous or even bored. Instead, try to move naturally. If you're in the middle of an interview with several interviewers, you may shift your body slightly so you're oriented toward them as they are speaking. Just remember: The more you prepared for your interview, the less nervous you should be.

Your Handshake

The handshake, though a small gesture, is one of the most important in an interview. With a firm, but not bone-crushing handshake, you communicate credibility. A "weak fish" handshake says you are delicate.

Keep your belongings in your left hand because you'll be shaking with your right. Orient your hand so the palm faces up slightly. This way, you're giving your interviewer superior status.

As you are shaking the interviewer's hand, look them directly in the eyes. Again, your handshake should be firm.

Let the interviewer to initiate the handshake. Take their hand warmly and firmly, then follow their cues.

body language

Smile Naturally!

Try to smile naturally, just as you do when you're with friends or family, having fun. Try to involve your eyes in your smile—it's a dead giveaway when your eyes don't smile.

Relax Your Throat and Speech

You may be nervous, with most of your muscles tensed up. You want to do well in your interview. Your body betrays your tension with a tensed up voice and rapid speech. Before you answer a question, take a deep breath. Hold it for one or two seconds, then release it. Think about slowing your speech and body movements down a little.

Be mindful of your breathing. Breathe in slowly and quietly through your nose. Then, release the breath as you are developing your response.

Take a glass or bottle of water when or if it's offered. The simple act of sipping some water helps you to calm down slightly.

Note-Taking

Bring a pad of paper and a pen with you to your interview. You may want to take notes so you remember what you discussed. By note-taking, you're communicating that you regard the information you're being given as important and worth value.

In some interview situations, note-taking may not be appropriate. Regardless, take a pen and notepad with you.

Your Hands

Some people talk with their hands. That is, as they are speaking, their hands are in motion, emphasizing a point. If you speak with your hands, do so during your interview. Just make sure that you don't swat someone in the face or allow your hands to become an attraction.

Lean, or Don't Lean?

Some human resources professionals recommend leaning in as someone else is speaking. If you lean away, this may unintentionally communicate disinterest or even hostility.

Other professionals say you shouldn't lean in, because it makes you look closed off.


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