Body Language At An Interview

It’s easy to think that if we go through all the steps when looking for a new job such as searching for ads, sending resumes with cover letters, and landing an interview, then we’re home free. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. It happens often that all of these are flawless, and the applicant is a very good candidate for the job, but the interview flops. What happens? Probably something as simple as ignoring one important step: understanding the body language of the interviewer and using body language to reinforce your excellent resume.

It’s not uncommon for a person to say one thing while sending an entirely different message with his body language. If you pay close enough attention, you can tell when a person is not telling the truth. There are tell-tale signs in his movements, gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

Taking the time to understand the dynamics of body language may be the best weapon in your arsenal for getting the job you want. You need to know that some companies hire body language experts to help them make the best possible selections. Most interviewers have some training in body language, so it’s in your best interest to have at least a cursory understanding of it.

Facial Expressions

Is the interviewer smiling? He may be signaling that he is friendly—even that he is supportive of your application. On the other hand, be wary if the person is smiling too much—while he is talking, for example. He may be hiding something. Maybe he already knows that another candidate has been selected and he is just going through the motions with you. Smiling from time to time is a good sign, though. It’s an indication that the person is being himself and is probably not hiding anything.

The most important clues will be in the eyes. A shifty-eyed person is not to be trusted. Does the interviewer make eye contact with you? That’s a good sign that he is receptive to you. Even so, making eye contact and holding it are two different things. If the interviewer holds eye contact too long, he may be trying to put you on the defensive.


When two people are talking, and one keeps looking away, it’s a sure sign of lack of interest in what the other one is saying. Ear- or chin-scratching and playing with an ear also indicate either a lack of interest or disbelief. It would be a good time to begin to take action and try to make yourself seem more believable.

Crossed arms send a not-so-subtle signal. It indicates defense, but it also sets up a symbolic barrier. Has the interview turned combative? It might be a good time to lighten up a bit.

The face is also a good barometer of the mind. A blank face indicates either hostility or that the person is thinking about something else—perhaps what he wants to say next.

Using Body Language to Get the Job

Practice reading body language in the people around you until it becomes natural. But don’t go overboard. If you are so preoccupied with this part of the interview, you may not do well on the other parts. Even so, don’t fold your arms; control your smiling so that you are using it only in those instances where it increases confidence in you; look into the interviewer’s eyes, but do not hold the contact too long. Don’t look away from the interviewer.

In the long run, being scrupulously honest makes it easier for you to put forth the best body language because you won’t need to hide anything. Have a reality session with yourself before you go into the interview. Go in confident and real and use what you know about body language to read your interviewer.

No comments: