Career Advice

Speaking with Your Body - What to Say and What Not to Say
Staff posted on December 15, 2010 |
Ok, you’ve completely overhauled your resume to give it that polished and professional look, went sh...

Ok, you’ve completely overhauled your resume to give it that polished and professional look, went shopping for a new outfit, have your shoes all shined up and are now preparing for the interview that will land you your dream job. So how do you convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job?

When preparing for an interview, most people focus on what questions they expect to be asked and try to come up with intelligent sounding responses for them. This is not to suggest that this practice is not beneficial, but rather that this should only be the starting point of your preparation. You may have heard the expression “it is not what you say, but how you say it.” Truer words have never been spoken when referring to a job interview. While it is important to pay close attention to what your mouth is saying to the interviewer, it is equally, if not more important that you pay attention to what your body is telling them.

In many cases, you have as few as 30 to 60 seconds to make a good impression with the interviewer. There is little room for error. From From the moment they lay their eyes on you, interviewers are sizing you up. From what you are wearing, the expression on your face, to how you carry yourself, shake hands and the first words that come out of your mouth, you are constantly under scrutiny. And if you can’t impress in the first minute, the rest of the interview might very well be a complete write-off.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you through the first minute of the interview and beyond, sounding, looking and feeling confident the whole way.


  • Psych yourself up before the interview. Look in the mirror to make sure you look like you want to. Giving yourself a pep talk prior to an interview can be the little difference needed to get you over the hump. If you wait until you are called into the interview to fix your tie, it can be too late, and if the interviewer catches a glimpse, the assumption may be that you are not prepared.
  • Upon meeting the interviewer, greet them with a firm handshake, while at the same time looking them in the eyes, smiling and introduction yourself with a, "hello, my namne is ____.  Nice to meet you.” A firm handshake and looking them in the eyes displays self-confidence.
  • Sit up straight in the chair. This is a sign of confidence, engagement and admiration. You can even lean in towards the interviewer a bit to show an increased level of interest. Don’t rock in your chair, cross your arms or legs, tap your fingers, slouch or lean towards the door. These are distracting gestures and are signs that you are disengaged and uncomfortable. You are saying that you want the interview to be over as soon as possible. This is not the message you want to convey if you want this job.
  • Keep eye contact throughout the interview (without staring) with a smile. Show your continued enthusiasm by occasionally nodding in agreement with what is being said or asked.

Do Not:

  • Rub the back of your head or neck. It shows disinterest in what is going on around you. Even if you have an itch or cramp, do your best to avoid reaching for them until the interview is over and you are off the interview premises.
  • Touching or rubbing your nose is even worse that the previous statement. It is a sign to the interviewer that you are not being completely honest with them. Misrepresenting yourself should be avoided in any interview at all costs, no matter how great the job is.
  • Invade the interviewer’s personal space. Keep a safe distance between you and the interviewer (at least 2 ft.). Sitting too close can make the interviewer feel uncomfortable and take the focus off your conversation.
  • Stare off into space. This is a sign that you are trying to distance yourself.

It’s Finally Over

Okay, so you made it through the interview and have done a pretty good job of following the steps above. I guess you’re in the clear, right? Well, not exactly. Remember that firm handshake and eye contact? You’ll have to do that again, except this time, instead of saying, "hello", you will thank the interviewer for their time and express once again how interested you are in the job. You may also want to tell them that you’d be more than happy to answer any further questions they might have over the phone or in a follow up interview.

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