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Interview Body Language and How to Succeed

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

Researchers have established a rule that spoken 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%.

Why is Body Language Important?

Body language in an interview can tell the employer a great deal about 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-oriented 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.
  • 32% of candidates are rejected for fidgeting too much during the interview.
  • 22% of employers would reject a candidate after an interview if they gave a weak handshake.
  • 39% of employers are discouraged by candidates who fail to smile during an interview.

The 10 Best Interview Body Language Tips

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

1. 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.

2. 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 too hard.

Note: It’s perfectly socially acceptable right now to skip a handshake, what with the Coronavirus pandemic. 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.”

3. 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 stiffly. 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.

4. Keep eye contact

Eye contact 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.

5. 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 an interviewee 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 a monotone.

6. 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 of them, whether on the table or in their lap.

7. Avoid touching your face

Such gestures and movements are considered to be a sign of dishonesty and untrustworthiness. In addition, it can also make candidates look bored and disinterested.

8. Smile

Candidates should smile at the start and end of the interview, but equally during the interview to show off their personality and also demonstrate they are paying attention to what is being said. A good tip is to smile and laugh whenever the interviewer does. Studies have shown that candidates that smile are more likely to get hired.

9. Mirror the interviewer’s image

Mirroring is a powerful way to bond and build rapport during an interview, and something we can do without even thinking about it.

10. 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 fingertips 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!

Remote Interview Body Language

For remote interviews, while the interviewer/panel will only be able to see you from the chest up, it is still important to take your posture into consideration. Before your call ensure you have a comfortable chair that shows good posture, sitting up straight without slouching. Getting your camera angle just right will help you look engaged and confident throughout your conversation. 

Active listening skills are key in these interviews. Whilst you are not in the same space, you want to demonstrate the right body language to show you’re engaged and listening along. The main way you can show this is through eye contact. Try positioning your notes alongside the video window, so your eye remains in line with your camera. Other ways you can show your interest is through gentle nodding and smiling, verbal cues can interrupt the flow of the conversation and interrupt another’s microphone. 

Body Language to Avoid

At the end of the day, body language is best understood as a non-verbal way of communicating. In addition to our posture and eye contact, some of our body language can be carried out subconsciously. And, unfortunately, some of these come with negative connotations. During an interview, it is good to be aware of your habits, and actively make the effort to put on a good first impression. 

Here are five different types of body language that could make an interviewer think twice:

  • Slouching
  • Crossing your arms
  • Fidgeting 
  • Checking the time 
  • Avoiding eye contact

Whilst some of these actions can be a result of nerves, they can also give non-verbal messages that you are insecure and on edge, uninterested, guarded and, even, untrustworthy. Make sure you refrain from the above to help give an open and approachable first impression. 

Interpreting Body Language

Another thing to bear in mind is that being self-aware of your own body language is only half the battle. Understaffing and interpreting the body language your interviewer is showing you complete the two-way nonverbal conversation. Reading their mannerisms can help you get a feel for how successful your interview is going. 

There are two things to focus on: mirroring and eye contact. If your interviewer starts to mirror or copy some of the movements you are making, such as nodding or leaning in, you can make the assumption things are looking good.

However, just as they will be looking at your eye contact, if they seem reluctant to meet your eye or seem to be looking around the room. This can be a sign they are losing interest. But, don’t give up. If you see this, try and ask a question that picks up on something they mentioned earlier.

Good interview body language comes with practice, whether that’s from multiple meetings or, even, sitting in front of the mirror. Your dedication will pay off. 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 info@cloverhr.co.uk.


Which body language is considered appropriate in job interviews?

Appropriate body language in job interviews includes making eye contact, sitting up straight, nodding and smiling when appropriate, and using hand gestures moderately.

What constitutes poor body language during an interview?

Poor body language during an interview includes slouching, fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, crossing arms or legs, and exhibiting nervous behaviours such as biting nails or tapping feet.

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