Interview tips – How to make body language work for you

How you behave during a job interview is important – your body language is as important as the interview. Learn the art of perfecting your body language, so you can impress the interview panel with your confidence.

When you attend a job interview you present yourself as a package in front of the interviewers. You are assessed for various qualities and one of them is your body language or non-verbal skills, as I like to call them. How you conduct yourself during an interview is crucial – it is part of the package that you are presenting. And an ideal package is one where the body language is positive.

What exactly is positive body language? Positive body language can be best described as a confident air, where you don't display nervousness and do not appear shut to views, and where your apprehensions or aggression doesn't become apparent. Positive body language can be read from the way you sit to the way you gesticulate while talking. In the corporate world, positive body language is of great significance, since it creates an invisible aura that boosts the package – which in this case is you. Body language is actually a coded message that you subconsciously send out. Positive body language will generate positive vibes, while negative body language will generate damaging vibes.

Like every other skill, correct body language is a skill that can be mastered. All it needs is a little practice and a constant conscious effort to control the way your body behaves.

How to get your body language right

Having good body language is always a good thing, but it becomes imperative to have a positive body language when you are meeting with someone, as in an interview. You are under scrutiny, and you need to put up your best display. So, here is your guide to the right moves, especially during an interview –

Sitting right – how to sit during an interview

The one thing you should not do when you sit down is to drag the chair. You never drag the chair. Get in front of the chair, let the back of your legs touch the chair and you lower yourself into the seat. Move back, so the small of your back touches the backrest. Move your shoulders back as well. Rest your arms on the armrest, if there is one.

By all means, shift in your chair during the interview, but do not slouch and never be too fidgety, as they respectively indicate low-confidence and extreme nervousness. Also, avoid crossing and uncrossing your legs. Do not be stiff, be relaxed, and shift your position slowly as this can actually ease nerves and stop the jitters.

Your posture must be open throughout the interview. This means no crossed arms. What do you do with your arms during the interview? If there is no arm rest, the best place to keep your hands is on your lap, one on top of the other. Alternatively, have one hand on the armrest and the other on your lap.

Never sit with your fingers interlocked and don't use your fingers to play around with your hair or the ring on your finger or anything else.

Is it fine to gesticulate during an interview

Yes, it's fine to use hand gestures – it is an important part of communication. While this might contradict what has been mentioned above, remember that we are discussing two different scenarios. In this case, the gestures involve communication when you need to accentuate what you are saying, or when emphasising vital points or words.

Body language experts conclude that gesticulating with the right hand, during communication signifies sharing of material, while the use of the left-hand shows the inclination to receive or gather information.

Clenched fists show caginess, while open palms indicate sincerity.

Although it is fine to use hands with talking, it is best to keep the hand movements natural and to a minimum. The gestures shouldn't be overpowering and take the focus away from you – in which case it would be a diversion from what is being said.

Recommended Reading : How to use non-verbal communication skills during interviews

Practice can put you at ease

If you are attending a campus placement interview then check the interview room a day in advance. Practice sitting on the chair, so you get comfortable. You will know how far back you need to lean back or where to place your arms and hands.

Over a period of time, our habits become a permanent feature. We do things without being aware. Make a conscious effort to identify habits that you might have developed over the years and try and get out of the same.

Do you have any of these common habits seen in people –

  • Wringing the hands
  • Shaking the legs
  • Twiddling the hair
  • Biting the lips
  • Rubbing the chin
  • Licking the lips
  • Touching the shirt buttons/collar
  • Pushing hair back

These are some habits that become a part of us, but do not come across well. Make an effort to rid yourself of these or any other habit that you might have.

Begin practising hand gestures before the interviews begin, for instance, use your hands when participating in seminars or during a discussion in class. Work on your hand movement, so you get better at it. Control excessive use of hands and practice open palm posture.

What does the interviewer's body language indicate

While the interviewers observe and get signals from your body language you can pick cues from their body language as well, to know which way the interview is headed. Learn to identify positive and negative body language -

Positive indicators

  • Nodding in agreement
  • Smiling
  • Tilt of the head to one side
  • Relaxed posture
  • Leaning forward
  • Elbows/hands on the table

Negative indicators

  • Arms crossed
  • Fiddling with paper/pen
  • Drumming fingers
  • Looking over your head/behind you/not making eye contact
  • Visibly distracted

If you notice any of the negative indicators or get negative vibes, know that things are not going well. You can perhaps try and put in a little more effort in your responses.

The human brain is tuned to decode body language signals, and most of the times it is an unconscious process. Our sub-conscious minds automatically decode signals, which is why we sense the feel-good vibrations around some people and become wary or take a dislike to some others. It is also possible to make a conscious effort to read body signals and as an interviewee, you must learn to identify your weak signals and work to correct them. It is natural to get nervous during interviews, but you can overcome the nerves by being in control of the way your body reacts. You can master the art of controlling your body.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: K Mohan22 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Once again a very good article with very good tips on how to attend the interview with good body language indications. Normally when we are attending a personal interview, the way we enter the room and the way we approach the table and the way we stand and keep standing unless asked to sit are all keenly watched by the interviewers. One of the interviewers may watch for your dress sense, one may watch your eyes movements, one may watch for your walking style and sitting posture. All these matters in an interview. Above all, one must be keenly watching for the listening ability. This is very important.

Author: Swati Sarnobat30 May 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

The body language that you use should be effective. Sit down in a comfortable position and let your gestures and expressions flow freely. Answer intelligently and the body language looks natural. Be confident. Let your body and your soul co-ordinate with each other.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao30 May 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

When you attend an interview you should appear confident. Another issue is, we Indians use the salutation 'Sir', a word left by the British, very easily, We have to go away from that. Already many of the IT companies done away with this. So while answering the questions try to avoid using that word. It also indicate your self respect.

We should appear in such a way that by seeing us they should feel that we are confident and can stand up to their expectations. This message has to go from your body language.

A very interesting article by Ms.Juana

Author: Juana19 Jun 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

Srinivasa Rao,

I am of a different opinion. In no way does the use of 'Sir' while addressing someone, especially, during a job interview diminish or raise self-respect. It is just a form of respect and an accepted practice. It is the equivalent of the Hindi 'Ji', especially in an interview.

IT companies are generally American, and there the work culture is different, it is a different society. They encourage the same culture here. However, a young entrant into the job market cannot or should not appear discourteous.

We can begin addressing the boss or others if they insist that it is done. Until then it should be Sir and Ma'am.

Author: Juana20 Feb 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3


I agree with you. One's body language during an interview is an effective tool that must be exploited to one's advantage. A strong body language sends out strong and positive messages. One appears to be in command and in the knowledge of the field that one is being interviewed for and thus becomes a probable candidate for the position.

Even when one is unsure and does not know how to respond to a tricky question or something that is out of the realm of one's knowledge it is advised that one shouldn’t panic. It is better to acknowledge the lack of information and show a willingness to learn new things.

Author: Juana14 Jun 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3


I do not think people on the interview panel have specific tasks that have them watch the dress sense, eye movements etc. They are there to pick the best candidate for the job.

Candidates must take care of the way they dress and be in control of their body language because it makes a positive impression on those on the panel. When the body language is positive there are fewer distractions. The interview panel is able to concentrate on the candidate and their assets, rather than getting distracted by their fidgety movements.

Similarly, a number of corporate offices follow a specific dress code, like formal wear. Candidates must be aware of this and not go to the interview wearing loud, flashy clothes, so they fit in, instead of standing out like a sore thumb.

Following these unwritten rules puts the candidate at an advantage because the interviewers are able to stay focused on their abilities. When someone is well attired and confident, the same reflects their personality and it sends out positive vibes, creating an immediate connection.

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