Everyone gets nervous for job interviews and tries to prepare great responses to the interviewers potential questions. But maybe what you say is not as important as how you say it…or what your body language is saying during a job interview.

Are you communicating all of your best traits in an interview? What is your interview body language and nonverbal behavior saying to the interviewer?

Here are a few tips to give you the extra body language edge to get the job:

1. Have One Bag

This might sound crazy, but research has found that when people carry more than one item they look disorganized, messy and scattered. If you are a man carry one briefcase  if you are a woman have one purse with your notes or resume in the bag. Also, jackets count. If possible have the receptionist or secretary take your coat and hat before walking into the interview. This simple trick is a nonverbal way to make you look more sharp and put together.

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2. Don’t Forget the Back of Your Shoes!

One study found that female interviewers look at the back of a person’s shoes in almost every interview – and this is the last impression you leave them with. So be sure you have them buffed, not scuffed.

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3. Smile Right

A lot of interview advice says that people should smile more in interviews, but this is not always a good idea. Whats better is to smile right. People who smile too much are actually perceived as submissive and weak! Many studies have shown that people in positions of power actually do not smile much at all but rather smile at the right time.

You want to smile when you first meet the person and shake their hand, when you talk about subjects you are passionate about and at the end of the interview while saying goodbye. This is especially important for females–smiling too much because you are nervous or trying to build rapport actually does the opposite, it makes females look less smart not more friendly.

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4. Sit Right

If possible try to sit at a slight angle from the interviewer. Our brains are funny organs, research has shown that when we sit directly across from someone we recall less of what was said, we are more negative and feel they are opposing us. Simply sitting at a slight angle can change this automatic brain bias.

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5. Don’t Contract, Don’t Expand

In an interview you want to take up the right amount of space. When we are nervous we tend to ‘turtle’ which is when you bring your neck down and your shoulders up to take up less space. We also try to make ourselves as small as possible–women cross their legs, men fold their arms over their chest. This shows the interviewer you are insecure and can make it look like you have something to hide. So relax your arms, plant your feet and don’t let your body show your tension.

Occasionally men will do the opposite, they will try to claim territory by taking up as much space as possible, draping an arm over the couch or spreading legs wide while they talk. This is very aggressive and will make the other person taking subconscious (or even conscious note) of the territorial move.

Insider Tip: Sometimes when people are nervous they tend to grip the arms of their chair or clench their fists at their sides. This subconsciously sends the signal that you are preparing for battle or are defensive. Take deep breaths and keep your hands loose and relaxed.

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6. Start in the Parking Lot

When possible start all of your nonverbal tips in the parking lot before you even enter the building. There are two reasons for this:

Bosses, colleagues, interviewers might see you in the parking lot or in the elevator and you only get one chance to make a first impression. I have heard many stories of people who were friendly in an elevator and that person ended up being one of the people who made a hiring decision.

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7. Power Body Language

Don’t forget how important body language is in an interview–practice your nonverbal communication as well as your verbal answers. 

No matter what, go in and be yourself. When you are not genuine, people pick up on it. So take a deep breath, try to keep these tips in mind and show ’em what you have to offer!

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Cheat Sheet:

coolest infographic of body language tips for interviewees, best body language for job interviews

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

2 replies on “7 Body Language Interview Tips To Land Your Next Job”

  1. Ray Spellerberg

    I just have to wonder if the caliber of the interviewers are to this standard or awareness. It seems that a lot of articles are written in the sense that the interviewer has the most, if not all, the power, And we constantly seem to be coaching the candidate. I would like to see a different perspective on how to achieve the candidates objectives from an interview. It is, after all, a buyers job market currently.

  2. lkwill

    Interesting to see the images of men and women shaking hands on this page on the Power of Body Language video and the Do’s and Don’t’s Interview Body Language Techniques. Both couples are shaking with left hands. This leaves the men on the left with open power body stances. One woman is seen from behind. The other has her arm crossing her body. Hmm.

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