Wednesday, 20 May 2020
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Interviews can be nerve-wracking. While your resume, preparation, and appearance may be impeccable, the way you carry yourself will let your potential employer know everything they need to about you as a future employee.


With this in mind, it is critical that you take the time to correct any bad habits that could cost you the job. Before you apply for a new career, check out these body language faux pas to avoid and tips to ensure you make a strong first impression on your next interview.


A Poor Handshake

Traditionally, a handshake will likely be the foundation on which the rest of your interview will unfold. Coronavirus has changed public health concerns, and there is speculation that the traditional handshake may be a thing of the past. It is unclear whether the handshake will become the norm again post-pandemic. Some are suggesting alternative greetings, like touching elbows, a head bow, or a simple wave. Time will tell whether we return to the handshake or adopt a new standard greeting, but the key to any greeting is confidence.


A strong handshake communicates to your interviewer that you are confident and professional. The key to a handshake being successful, however, is to make it intentional. Be sure that you are not gripping the person’s hand too tightly. Not only could this hurt them but it could also send the message that you are a dominating or aggressive individual who may be difficult to work with.


Similarly, presenting a weak handshake could convey that you are unsure of yourself or nervous. Portraying yourself as arrogant or incapable before you say a word is less than ideal; to avoid this, strive to maintain a firm grip while making eye contact and smiling at your interviewer.


Eye Contact

Appropriate eye contact, or a lack thereof, says a lot about an interviewee. While you may think that maintaining constant eye contact says that you are interested and engaged, it could be viewed as a hostile trait that makes the interviewer uncomfortable. On the other hand, not making enough eye contact sends the message that you are either disinterested, easily distracted, or being dishonest.


To portray an adequate amount of eye contact naturally, imagine you are speaking with a friend rather than an employer. Let your eyes wander naturally while still maintaining eye contact when answering the interviewer’s questions. If you are being interviewed by more than one person, be sure to make eye contact with each of them as much as possible.



Sitting up straight is the easiest way to let someone know that you are confident and have the potential to lead. On the contrary, slumping in your chair while you are being considered for a position tells the employer that you are bored or lack confidence. Not to mention, it looks bad.


Keeping your back straight may not feel comfortable, but it is important in an interview. When you feel yourself starting to slouch, try to correct it. Sitting up straight and leaning in slightly will not only make you appear polished and professional but will let the interviewer know that you are listening and engaged.


Crossing Your Arms

Like slouching, crossing your arms may feel natural to you, but it sends a negative message to the person observing you. Keeping your arms crossed tells your future employer that you are defensive or have something to hide. Even worse, it could give the interviewer the impression that you are arrogant or not open to new ideas. To let your interviewer know that you are approachable and eager to hear what they are saying, keep your hands folded in your lap, naturally at your sides, or in front of you.



Few things are as distracting and irritating as someone moving constantly when you are trying to have a serious conversation with them. For this reason, it’s essential that you avoid fidgeting during your interview. This could include touching your face repeatedly, bouncing your leg, tapping the table, or playing with your hair. Not only are these annoying habits, they tell your future employer that you are insecure or excessively nervous. Employers expect potential recruits to be a bit nervous in the beginning, but not being able to reign in that anxiety could give them the impression that you are incapable of performing well under pressure.


Nodding Too Frequently

Nodding in agreement to everything your interviewer says may seem like an effective way to let them know you are engaged and amicable, but it could backfire. On one hand, you may be seen as weak or indecisive for mindlessly agreeing with every word they say. Additionally, if you are not careful and continue to nod without paying attention, you may nod when asked a follow-up question and look foolish. For this reason, it is best to use nods sparingly.

Tips to Make a Strong First Impression

Just as negative body language can give your future employer a bad first impression, positive approaches can let them know that you are professional, confident, and well-equipped to tackle any task they throw at you. Here are some tips to help you make a positive impact during your interview:

  • Use your hands naturally when speaking, so that you do not seem awkward or robotic.
  • Avoid crossing your legs, so that you do not have to reposition them frequently to stay comfortable.
  • If given the option, choose a seat with a straight back to help you maintain good posture.
  • Try to smile during the interview. Not only will it tell the interviewer that you are happy to be there, but it will also likely calm your nerves.
  • Always be yourself. Trying to take on a new persona to seem more capable is sure to have the opposite effect.
  • Practice your body language with a friend or interview coach before the big day to see what bad habits naturally occur when you are nervous.

Overcoming bad body language before an interview may seem like an impossible feat, but it does not have to be. Becoming aware of how you present yourself, especially under pressure, is half the battle to making a great first impression. Just as you would spruce up your resume and practice answers to any potential interview question, being mindful of what messages you are sending with your body is a must in order to make the most of your job interview. With these practical tips, you will be sure to nail the interview and land your dream job in no time.


Interested in other articles about the job search, how best to conduct interviews, and more? Keep reading our blog!

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