You’ve prepped for your interview—done your research, studied up on the tricky questions the recruiter or hiring manager could ask you—but is your body language going to ruin your chances of getting the job?
The old saying is true: Actions speak louder than words. To help yourself project the most positive mannerisms—and to up your chances of going from candidate to new hire—check out this expert advice from hiring managers in the media biz on what body language to adopt in your next interview.
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1. Give a Firm Handshake
Whether we want to admit it or not, says Diana Marsh, EVP at marketing and tech firm The A Group, first impressions are huge in an interview. And for Marsh, it all starts with the handshake.
“If you have a weak handshake and don’t look me in the eye, I have a hard time not writing you off from the beginning,” says Marsh.
To start off on the right foot, Marsh says your handshake should be firm, and should stay consistent whether you’re shaking the hand of a man or a woman.
2. Don’t Overthink the Eye Contact
During your interview, you might have found yourself silently thinking am I staring into their eyes too much? Is this an abnormal amount of eye contact? Should I look away?
Sherrilynne Starkie, EVP of integrated communications agency Thornley Fallis Communications, says there’s no such thing as too much eye contact. So rather than worrying if you’re staring too long, or not enough, Starkie says to just relax, and not to be self-conscious about your eye contact.
“I think overall you just want to be natural,” says Marissa Grey, creative talent director at Critical Mass. “The most important thing is not to answer a question while looking away.”
3. Sit Up Straight
Mom was right about this one: Slouching is bad for your health, but it can also make you look lazy or sloppy in an interview, two traits interviewers try to avoid in employees at all costs.
“However, canny interviewers will not judge a person on his or her posture alone, but in the context of the whole interview,” says Starkie, “That said, it never hurts to sit up straight.”
4. But Don’t Be Too Rigid
Just as poor posture in an interview can work against you, so can being on the opposite side of the spectrum: Appearing too rigid.
“Concentrating on keeping straight might make it difficult to listen to questions so that you answer them fully and naturally,” says Starkie. Her advice? “Be yourself. Your best self.”
5. Lean Forward
For Marsh, the ideal way to sit at an interview is leaning in. “During the interview, leaning in shows that you are engaged in the conversation and what I am saying is important to you,” she says.
On the converse, leaning back can project the image that you are too comfortable, not interested or overconfident. “Last person I want to hire is someone that is not engaged from the beginning of the interview,” says Marsh.
6. Keep Your Body Open
It’s common wisdom—but no less true—that crossing your arms in an interview is a surefire way to send a “closed off” vibe to the interviewer, says Grey.
“The point of an interview is to have an open flow of communication,” says Grey, “your body language should reflect this.” So rather than opting for the crossed arms, check out our next tip to see the best alternative.
7. Fold Your Hands
Google “what to do with my hands during an interview” and you could get a little overwhelmed with all the contrasting advice.
“Keep your hands neatly folded on your lap,” Grey suggests. This will help you avoid talking too much with your hands, or worse, fidgeting.
8. Relax Your Voice
Our nerves can get the best of us in an interview, making our voice feel jumpy or high pitched. First of all, it’s important you don’t worry too much about this. “Most of us have been there ourselves and totally understand job interview nerves,” says Starkie.
To wrangle your nerves, Starkie recommends breathing slowly and deeply when the interviewer is talking to help you relax. And if you’re offered a glass of water, Starkie says to take it as sipping a drink can help calm yourself.
9. Nod Throughout
When the interviewer is talking to you, don’t just sit there staring back motionless. Rather, nod your head along with what they’re saying.
“Nodding your head is an indication that you are listening to what I am saying—you are following me,” says Marsh. “It’s very important as I want someone who is interested in the job and is truly listening to what I have to say about the position and the company.”
10. Make a Strong Exit
So you crushed the interview, and now all you have to do is book it to the door and enjoy the day. But wait! How you leave the interview is just as important as the rest of your time there.
“Shake the interviewer’s hand—make sure it’s a strong handshake!—and let them know you enjoyed meeting with him/her,” says Grey.
Then you can confidently make your way towards the exit knowing you concluded the interview just as strong as you began it.