Throwback Thursday: 6 Body Language Tips for Interviewing

After sending resume after resume hopelessly into the digital ether, you finally land an interview. Success! All that’s left for you to do is to put on a blazer, nail the interview, and pop the celebration champagne. Easy, right? Unfortunately, snagging the interview is the easy part. Attending the interview and making a good first impression is where the job-hunting game gets complicated.
Looking nice on paper can only get you so far, especially when competition is so fierce. If you can’t walk into an interview with a dazzling smile, your dreams of working in the public sector will dry up fast. In order to stand out in a sea of applicants, your body language and facial expressions have to drip with confidence, professionalism, and personality.
This week I’m highlighting Kathleen Smith’s helpful list of body language tips for interviewing. For extra credit, you can also check out Jessie Kwak’s recent post on “4 Types of Interview Questions You Should Be Asking Potential Employers.”
Keep these basics in mind at your next interview, and share any other tips you have in the comments.
Originally posted by Kathleen Smith on January 29, 2013.

As we mention frequently, people make snap decisions about you based on first impressions.

It’s important that you present a positive total package to a potential employer. One aspect of that is body language. Many of the judgments that interviewers make about you are subconscious – they don’t even realize they are judging you when they judge you.

Some body language tips to keep in mind when you interview:

Have a good handshake

You want to shake the other person’s hand firmly, but not too hard. This isn’t a strength contest. Give it 2-3 shakes and let go. People with weak handshakes often don’t realize they have a weak handshake. Practice with some friends – yes really – and get feedback. It may sound silly, but it’s important. A good handshake conveys confidence and assurance.

Sit up straight

Sit up straight during your interview, and when you are seated waiting for the interviewer to arrive. A lot of office furniture today is low and slouchy. Sit on the edge of the chair or sofa, which helps you sit up straight. Leaning very slightly forward projects an interest in what the interviewer is saying.


Attitude is more important than most job seekers realize. Don’t paste a frozen smile on for the entire interview, but being friendly, cordial and positive makes people want to work with you. And hire you.

Be present

Look the interviewer in the eye when they speak. Acknowledge them by nodding or otherwise affirming occasionally that you are paying attention to what they are saying. Focus, concentrate and be present in the moment.

Sit still

You may be nervous or antsy, but strive to sit still and be calm. Avoid foot tapping, fidgeting, tapping your pen, playing with your hair, clearing your throat, or whatever your nervous tic may be. You want to appear comfortable and professional, not nervous and unhappy to be there. If you’re unsure of your nervous tics asks friends or colleagues.

Be open

Don’t cross your arms. Or your legs. Crossing your arms gives a signal that you are uncomfortable and unreceptive. Crossing your legs can make you slouch.

Many interviewers are as uncomfortable as you are. Anything you can do to help put them at ease and show that you are a confident and competent professional will help your chances of securing the position.

**Every Thursday, GovLoop is combing through our archives to bring you stories of yore that could help you in your job today. So stay tuned for Throwback Thursday!

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