Body Language and How to Succeed at an Interview

It’s vital candidates know and understand how to flourish and succeed during an interview, and to understand the important role body language can play in obtaining a new role.

Researchers have established a rule that verbal communication is only 7% of what people take in, and non-verbal communication accounts for 93%. Non-verbal communication is made up of body language, which accounts for 55% and tone of voice, which accounts for 38%.

Body language in an interview can tell the employer a great deal of what the candidate is not saying. Keeping consistent body language during an interview can demonstrate to an employer that the candidate is worthy of the role. Employers are looking for candidates that can demonstrate they are confident, goal-orientated and focused. All of which will come from the candidate’s body language.

  • 67% of employers said the biggest mistake a candidate can make is a lack of eye contact.
  • 26% of candidates are rejected because of fidgeting too much during the interview.
  • 21% of employers would reject a candidate after interview if they gave a weak handshake.
  • 39% of employers are discouraged from candidates who fail to smile during an interview.

Here are some things for candidates to keep in mind whilst in an interview:

You are what you wear – clothes can say a lot about an individual’s personality and confidence. Candidates should think about the role and Company they are applying for, and dress accordingly.

Deliver a firm handshake – try to keep your handshake firm, a weak handshake can appear submissive, but a strong hard handshake can be seen as trying to hard.

NOTE: It’s perfectly socially acceptable right now to skip a handshake. When you first meet your interviewer, say in a warm tone, “I know we can’t shake hands right now, but it’s great to meet you.”

Sit up straight  – a poor posture can indicate a lack of energy for the role or low self-esteem. Sitting on the edge of a chair can also make a candidate come across nervous and tense. Therefore, candidates should try to sit up straight, but not too stiff. And remember, a candidate’s posture can be evaluated from the moment they arrive in the reception area, and not just during the interview meeting.

Keep eye contact – this is an important signal to the employer that the candidate is open, interested and engaged in both the role and Company. If there is more than one interviewer in the room, then the candidate should ensure they maintain eye contact with everyone in the room, and not just the person asking the questions.

Be mindful of voice delivery – candidates should ensure they are speaking in a clear and controlled manner which displays confidence. It is perfectly normal for candidates to pause before answering a question, this demonstrates they have given some thought to the answer. Candidates should try to vary their tone and pitch  during the interview, to avoid speaking in monotone.

Use hands when speaking – to make subtle gestures, as these are a sign of openness and honesty. Hand gestures can also help a candidate to emphasise key points, and demonstrate a level of confidence. When not speaking, a candidate can rest their hands in front on them, whether on the table or in their lap.

Avoid touching face – as this is considered to be a sign of dishonesty and untrustworthy. In addition, it can also make candidates look bored and disinterested.

Smile – candidates should smile at the start and end of the interview, but equally during the interview to show off their personality and also demonstrates they are  paying attention to what is being said. A good tip, is to smile and laugh whenever the interviewer does.

Mirror the interviewer’s image – this is a powerful way to bond and build rapport during an interview, and something we can do without even thinking about it.

Stay in one spot – candidates should avoid moving around and fidgeting during an interview. This includes moving your legs up and down, and tapping your finger tips on the table or chair. Fidgeting is a sign of impatience and boredom.

Note: Most of the above tips apply to a video interview as well as a traditional face to face interview!

If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at


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