All the Right Moves- The Right Body Language on a Job Interview

by hwrjoel Monday, June 28, 2010

No matter how stunning your resume and cover letter are, if you don’t do well in the interview, you’re most likely not going to get the job. Being a little nervous is one thing, but showing up to an interview a completely different person than your resume says you are is quite another.

So how do you maintain the professional, capable, calm and collected person that you sold on paper? Brush up on your speaking and communication skills, maybe study some potential questions from employers… and then make sure that you convey the right message with your body language. I don’t mean to move seductively or try to hypnotize with your body by dancing on desks…. But you should be able to engage your interviewer, appear professional and most of all, exude lots of confidence to show what a shoe in you are for the job.

Here are a few don’ts to get you started:

  • Don’t cross your arms. This is a move that is often frowned upon in general- it’s even advised not to do this if you’re trying to pick up a guy or girl in a bar because it’s sort of a defensive move. You’re saying that you’re reserved and trying to remain closed off from the world when you are shielding your body like this. Of course you’re not trying to go home with your interviewer (that’s a different article) but if you appear closed off or standoffish, you’re not going to send a good message.
  • Don’t even think about putting your hands in your pockets. Hello, five year old boy! Do you really think that someone is going to take you seriously when you pull this “shy” move? Keep your hands at your sides or casually on your lap!
  • Don’t lean away. If you’re leaning toward the door or away from your interviewer, you may be unknowingly sending a message that says “I want to get away” or “I’m so not interested in what you have to say.” Common sense would tell you that these are not messages you want to send on a job interview. Leaning in a little towards your interviewer conveys interest and focus.
  • Don’t touch yourself. Of course you’re not going to masturbate in front of the interviewer (well, I hope not) but you should also keep the touching of any part of yourself to a minimum. Keep your mind out of the gutter already, that’s not what I mean. If you touch your nose, it is kind of like a “tell” that says you’re not being completely truthful. Kind of ironic, considering Pinocchio’s tell was his nose growing every time he told a lie. Rubbing your head or neck says that you’re bored…. So does staring at the floor. It’s ok to scratch an itch, of course. Don’t sit there stiff as a board, either… just be mindful of what you’re doing.
  • Don’t be a slouch or jitterbug. It’s ok to slouch back and relax when you’re at home on your couch, but in an interview? It appears totally unprofessional. Sit up straight, soldier. You are confident, not doubtful, remember? Also, if you cross your legs, it’s fine, but don’t start nervously shaking your leg or wiggling your foot. We all do this sometimes when our legs are crossed. It’s usually because we’re impatient or bored. You guessed it- not things that you want to say to on a job interview!


Now that you know what not to do on a job interview, it should be easier to avoid. Just remember that you want to be confident (but not cocky), professional and prove that you weren’t lying on that excellent resume of yours. Good luck and work that body language!

Landon Long is the founder of and a recognized expert on the topic of psychology-based job interview tips for job seekers all over the world.

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