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5 Common Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in a Job Interview

by Marianne Stenger
Posted: January 04, 2016

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Job interviews can be intimidating, and it’s only natural to feel a bit nervous even if you’re well-prepared. Here are some tips on how to ace your next interview. 

Since your body language can tell an employer as much (or more) than what you say out loud, learning to manage pre-interview jitters, and present yourself calmly, is important.

In a survey earlier this year, American job site CareerBuilder asked employers to reveal some of the most common body language mistakes candidates tend to make during that all-important first meeting. Here’s what they said and how you can avoid these problems during your next interview.

1. Not making eye contact

Failing to make eye contact is one of the biggest body language mistakes candidates make and 65% of the employers surveyed cited it as an issue. Avoiding eye contact can make you seem insecure, disinterested, or even give your interviewer the idea that you’re hiding something.

You don’t have maintain constant eye contact with your interviewer, of course, as that could become awkward pretty quickly, but you should make eye contact at key moments such as when shaking hands, listening to questions and talking about the things you’re passionate about.

2. Not smiling

Not smiling is viewed as another big faux pas, and 36% of employers said candidates often make this mistake during a job interview.

Smiling is important because it helps you come across as more approachable and confident, but you should keep your smile natural and avoid overdoing it. The most important thing is to be aware of your facial expressions and make an effort to avoid frowning or furrowing your brow.

3. Nervous behaviour and fidgeting

You’re more likely to fidget if you’re feeling nervous, so it’s hardly surprising that 33% of employers surveyed said that candidates often play with something on the table, 29% said they tend to fidget too much in their seat, and 25% cited candidates playing with their hair or touching their face as a problem.

If you’re feeling particularly nervous before your interview, practice taking deep breaths to calm yourself down and clasp your hands together to avoid nervous habits like touching your hair or face.

4. Poor posture

Poor posture can make you seem unconfident even if you aren’t, and 30% of employers indicated that they consider bad posture a big mistake.

Leaning too far backwards can give the impression that you’re standoffish; whilst leaning in too closely during the interview could make the interviewer feel uncomfortable, so in order to convey confidence without looking stiff or uncomfortable, keep your shoulders back and your spine neutral with your back resting on your chair if possible.

5. Crossing your arms over your chest

Crossing your arms over your chest can be seen as a sign of resistance and 26% of employers said this was a common problem when interviewing new candidates. To avoid this, keep your hands in your lap or clasp them on the table in front of you if there is one.

Remember that being aware of your body language is the best way to avoid errors, so try doing a few practice interviews with friends and family members in order get their feedback, or better yet, record a mock interview so you can view your own body language firsthand and see if there is any room for improvement.


Marianne Stenger

Marianne is a London-based freelance Writer and Journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central.

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