Talent Development Centre

Body Language Techniques to Ace Interviews

Jennifer Farrell By Jennifer Farrell,
Proposal Team Lead at Eagle

A firm handshake with a bright smile is a great way to start an interview. To keep the positive momentum moving forward, try out some of these body language gestures. Used properly, they are guaranteed to give the impression that you are relaxed and confident.

When you first sit down, keep your hands on the top of the desk and lightly fold your fingers. This keeps you from fidgeting with your hands, which can be very distracting.

Sit straight with your legs together and cross your feet at the ankles. This posture grounds your hips and forces your body to tilt forward slightly. Leaning toward the interviewer gives the signal that you are interested in what they have to say.

Begin mirroring the interviewer because copying another person’s gestures garners acceptance.  Be careful with this technique though, it needs to be handled delicately and it’s not always appropriate. For example, smiling when someone smiles at you is a great mirroring technique; fake sneezing after they sneeze is not.

Use “interested” head gesture positioning.  Tilting your head down automatically hunches up your shoulders, which makes you look insecure or defensive.  Tilting your head too far back forces your nose up in the air, which gives the impression you are over confident or egotistical. The best head gesture to gain acceptance is to tilt the head slightly to one side.  With your head tilted, relax your face and jaw muscles too. Try this head position in front of a mirror before you use it in an interview.

Keep your hands away from your face. Touching your face a lot belies insecurity. It also makes it appear as though you are being dishonest. If you can’t keep your hands clasped lightly in front of you (and we’ve all been so nervous that this is a challenge) then ask for a glass of water and sip from it often, or keep a pen in your hand and hold it lightly. Some people swear by a paperclip.

Pay attention to your palm positioning throughout the interview. Locking your fingers together is an aggressive gesture, as is pointing at someone (or drilling a piece of paper with your finger to drive home a point), whatever you do, don’t hold your hands palm down against the desk.  The best position if your hands are free is to open your hand, letting it rest palm up. This gesture non-threatening and submissive.

handshakesFinally, some advice about hand-shakes: When you are just meeting someone it is appropriate to shake hands up and down with 2 or 3 pumps. Handshakes to avoid include the Glove (other hand clasping the outside of the shakers hand), and Wrist (other hand clasping the wrist of the shakers hand), the Elbow (other hand clasping the elbow of the shakers hand) and the Shoulder Hold (other hand patting the shoulder of the shakers hand). These are all handshakes that are overly familiar and leave the receiver feeling somewhat violated and suspicious by their over familiarity.

Let your body language do the talking and you won’t have to! Tell us, what are your favourite tricks to use during an interview?

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