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The body language signs to look out for in a job interview

Your body language speaks a thousand words. (Photo: Getty)

We know that more than half of all communication is non-verbal.

And in a situation like a job interview, you’ll want to make a good impression with not just the words you use but your body cues, too.

This is especially the case since the interviewer, whether they’ll be your potential boss or not, will be looking out for whether you’re responsive and if you can proactively anticipate the needs of a manager or colleague.

According to recruitment firm Robert Half, there are certain body language cues you can read to know if you’re performing well in an interview, and modifications to your own movements you can make to show off your best side.

From the top down, here are body to look out for:

Head, face and eyes

This is what the interviewer will be looking at the whole time, so it goes without saying that what’s going on here is vitally important.

What to look for:

  • Direct eye contact will show if they’re interested and engaged. But if they’re always looking away over your shoulder or to their notes, it could mean that they’re losing interest. If you suspect you’re being too long-winded in your answer, bring it back to the point.
  • A tilted head demonstrates interest and empathy.
  • A sincere smile: look for that crinkle in the corner of the eyes that will indicate it’s genuine. If it’s just in the mouth, the interviewer’s likely just being polite or forcing it.

What to do:

  • Tilt your own head slightly and maintain eye contact, but make sure it’s natural and don’t stare.
  • Smile. Nerves are understandable, but interviewers will be looking for candidates who exude natural confidence and ease that will reflect their competence in doing the job.

Arms and hands

Most people talk with their hands, so it’ll be easy to interpret how the interviewer might be feeling with the way they’re gesturing (or not).

What to look for:

  • Extended or open arms will show they’re relaxed and open to your ideas. If they’re crossed, it could be a sign they’re unengaged or uncomfortable.
  • Big, expressive hand gestures can indicate passion – but this can be either a good or bad thing, depending on context.

What to do:

  • Shake hands at the beginning and end of the interview with a smile and eye contact. You’ll seem warm and confident, and start and finish on the right foot.
  • Keep your arms and hands open. It’s not a good idea to cross your arms, even if you’re cold. It’ll appear like a barrier between yourself and the interviewer, and act as a subconscious block to connecting.

Posture

Don’t overlook the importance of posture: it can communicate volumes as a subtle indicator of how someone feels.

What to look for:

  • A straight and open torso will show the interviewer is at ease and paying attention.
  • On the other hand, a hunched torso may mean the interviewer is defensive of weary of the interview.

What to do:

  • Lean in slightly towards the interviewer to communicate interest in the interview and in the role.
  • Subtly mirror the interviewer’s body posture to indicate you understand the interviewer’s viewpoint and to also convey comfort and connection.

Legs and feet

While they might be harder to see, legs and feet can be a surprising indicator of how someone feels about you.

What to look for:

  • You’ve probably heard this one before: both feet pointing towards you denotes openness and interest.
  • By contrast, feet pointed away may suggest a desire to leave.
  • Shifting their weight or a twitching leg may indicate that the interviewer is stressed or impatient.

What to do:

  • Sit comfortably, but sit up straight and turn your body – and your feet – towards the interviewer. Even if it’s a phone or video interview, keeping these body cues in mind will help you more sincerely communicate enthusiasm.

However, as with everything, context will be the most important thing – don’t forget to account for idiosyncratic quirks, and the fact that the room really might just be cold.

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