It is not hard to find information on the types of body language not to do at an interview. What kind of body language is actually helpful for an interview?
Body language can communicate more about your personality than your answers to job interview questions. Negative body language is fairly obvious:
- Don’t roll your eyes.
- Don’t slouch or look bored.
- Don’t sit there shaking uncontrollably.
These are all simple things to avoid that everyone understands. It may be hard to avoid them, but at least everyone knows that if they are rolling their eyes or looking away from an interviewer during an interview, they are harming their chances at getting a job.
Some of the basic “good body language” is known as well. Making eye contact, sitting up straight, and smiling are all important during your job interview. However, there are other types of body language that are considered “useful” in job interviews.
- Legs Slightly Apart/Together – Most hiring managers advise against crossing your legs. Instead, men should sit with their legs slightly apart, and women with their legs together. This may be something to practice since holding these positions may feel uncomfortable or unnatural.
- Lean Slightly Forward – Keeping your back straight is preferable to slouching, but it can make you appear stiff and nervous. A better posture is to lean forward at a very slight angle to give the appearance of interest.
- Hands in Front – Keeping your hands in an appropriate location can be difficult to manage. You should not cross your arms, put them under your legs or behind your head. Instead, the best position for them is on the table directly in front of you with one hand over the other. If that is too difficult lean your forearms on the table and gently clasp your fingers together.
- Copy Your Interviewer – Finally, when all else fails, consider posing the same way your interviewer poses. People are more comfortable with others that appear to have the same comfort level as they do. Do not copy any negative behaviors (if your interviewer crosses their arms, don’t copy them) but if they appear to be holding a professional position, copying their position is useful.
Body language says a lot about your thoughts, emotions, and character. Make sure you keep your legs in an acceptable position, your hands in front of you, and your body leaning slightly forward, and you should be able to hold a professional posture. When in doubt, follow your interviewer’s lead.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Keep your legs straight out in front of you. Do not cross them.
- Keep your arms on the table in front of you. Gently interlock fingers.
- Lean just slightly forward to look less stiff.
- Copy your interviewer’s posture when in doubt.