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10 Body Language Interview Mistakes that Could Ruin your Shot of Landing the Job

Posted December 27, 2018

You’ve seen the TedTalks and heard the scientific proof: we’re all influenced by the power of body language.

What you might not have considered was how these small cues could impact your shot of landing a new job. Even if you came prepared to answer all the interviewer’s questions, you could be saying a lot without ever opening your mouth.

Here’s 10 body language interview mistakes to avoid next time you’re in the “hot seat.”


1. Bad Posture

Many people are guilty of naturally slouching. Next time you’re standing or sitting, take a moment to see if you fall into the bad posture category. If your abdomen is protruding, your spine is arched and your shoulders are slumped or rounded, you might need to straighten up!

During an interview, this unintentional slouching could be working against you. Poor posture can make you look lazy or disinterested, while bowing forward can appear aggressive. Once in front of your interviewer, do a quick posture check before you start talking.


2. Too Little Eye Contact

You probably don’t need us to tell you that eye contact is important during any sort of face-to-face conversation. Still, many interviewees fear making too much eye contact, so they accidentally end up not giving enough.

Remember, you want to make a personal connection, and eye contact is an excellent way to show engagement. Don’t start a stare-down, but be mindful to keep letting your eyes naturally fall back onto the interviewer every few moments.


3. A Bad Handshake

The dreaded handshake. You don’t want your hands to be sweaty (darn nerves!) and you certainly don’t want to shake too hard or too soft. But because the handshake is likely the only moment you’ll make physical contact with the interviewer, it’s an important moment to make an impression.

Aim for a firm handshake, like you’d give a pal. Naturally, you probably wouldn’t grab a friend’s hand with a “hanging on for dear life” grip, nor would you give them a “limp fish” shake. Practice on your buddy beforehand if it feels awkward and try to land on a grip that doesn’t feel forced.


4. Aggressive Hand Movements

There’s a reason Disney park employees are banned from pointing with just their index finger. Not only can jabbing a finger in your interviewer’s face appear hostile, but that gesture can be symbolically insulting in many cultures. Here’s 10 ways to point politely should the need arise in your next interview.Also be mindful to avoid overall quick movements or chopping motions with your hands (think karate!) which can subconsciously make the interview tense and instinctively primed for attack. Over exaggerated hand gestures in general, too much hand movements can be distracting as well.


5. Crossing Arms or Hiding Hands

Avoid “shrinking” body postures, where you metaphorically (and quite literally) make yourself appear smaller. By crossing your arms, you’re creating a closed off impression, which can exude defensiveness or resistance. Think of the pouting kid who wants their way and the general stiffness and attitude that comes with it!

Also try to avoid hiding your arms behind your back when standing, as it can instinctively create a primal alert of distrust— “What’s behind your back?” Instead, keep your hands visible whenever possible, either lying them on your lap or crossing them on the tabletop, in a relaxed, open state.


6. Fidgeting

Fidgeting during an interview is usually due to nerves. But not only can jittering make the interviewer wonder what you’re nervous about— “Is he lying?”— but it can also be interpreted as boredom or impatience. Ticking a pen on the table or tapping your finger or foot might just be plain annoying to your interviewer as well, finding it distracting.

Even if you don’t come off as irritating or suspicious, the interviewer might take your inability to handle the stress of an interview as your inability to handle stress on the job. Resist the urge to make nervous movements and remain poised and professional.


7. Nervous Eye Movement

People usually dart their eyes back and forth when they feel uncomfortable. According to Business Insider, it’s a physiological reaction to feeling trapped by questions you don’t want to answer— and usually a tell-tale sign of lying. So is rapidly blinking or looking up to your right, which are often a result of high stress.

Fortunately, if you are genuine during the interview about your strengths and skill sets, you shouldn’t have to worry! Still, be careful to not let your nerves get the best of you by keeping your eyes focused and relaxed.


8. Choosing the Wrong Body Angle

You’ve probably heard that people naturally angle their body towards something they’re interested in. Well it’s more than just a way to see if a crush is into you! Use the knowledge during your interview to assure your to-be boss that you are interested in this position.

During your conversation, make sure you’re facing the person, feet forward. Avoid angling yourself towards the door, which could indicate you are eager to leave and not interested.


9. An “Extreme” Tone

Sometimes it’s easy to “go in hot.” We know you’re super excited about the position, but be sure your level of excitement is appropriate. Avoid being too loud and domineering with your volume and tone, or seeming so happy it’s almost manic!

The same concept applies to the flipside of the coin: being too soft. If your volume and tone are quiet as a mouse, you may come off as too timid and not a good candidate for a team-oriented role.


10. Not Mirroring your Interviewer

We’ve discussed the importance of body language during an interview multiple times, so to our last point, we’d like to share the secret to amiability: mirroring.  

Matching the positive body language of your interviewer, in a subtle way, can subconsciously tell them you’re a good fit— like them. It might be something as simple as nodding briefly when they nod or smiling when they smile. If done genuinely, mirroring can really help to establish an unspoken connection.


Let your Personality Shine

Now that you understand how body language can make or break your interview, go land the job!

Wouldn’t it be easy to talk with an employer if you had a natural connection first, before the stress of the interview?

Here at GoGig, we match candidate with employers based on more than just your experience. Our personality profile accounts for culture fit too. It’s like a dating app, but with your next employer!

Sign up for a free profile and get matched with the right job, today.

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