Common Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During Interviews

Learn some of the common body language mistakes to avoid during interviews.
Submitted by Mehak Aggarwal, on December 27, 2022

Body language is more important than you might think. As per studies, the success of an interview depends 7% on what is said, 38% on grammar and your voice, and a whopping 55% on your body language. You might talk a big game, but bad body language could potentially hold you back from getting the job. First impressions are not only crucial for the success of your interview, but they're also nearly impossible to change or re-do. While being prepared with common interview questions is a key part of nailing the interview, your body language speaks louder than your words.

If you make the wrong gestures, it describes you as aloof or insecure, and that is not what any company looks for. During an interview, your gestures and body posture should always reflect a sense of confidence and ease of movement. This just shows how important it is to keep your body language correct and proper, along with having the right knowledge and information.

What is Nonverbal Communication?

Nonverbal communication is the transfer of information between two people without the use of spoken language or words. It can occur in a lot of different ways, including through hand gestures, facial communication, and body posture. In other words, any communication made between two or more people through gestures is called nonverbal communication. This plays a vital role, not just in your personal life, but also in your professional life.

Throughout the interview process, your body language should be proper and professional. With that being said, it is important to use good nonverbal communication during interviews, as well as other in-person interactions. However, nonverbal gestures should be natural. No matter how much you practice nonverbal communication, if you try too hard and it's not coming to you naturally, it could come across as awkward or unnatural.

Tips for Good Nonverbal Communication

  1. Use good eye contact - When people fail to look other people in their eyes, it could come across as eluding or like they're trying to hide something. Even though good eye contact is important, do not stare into someone's eyes to the point that it becomes inappropriate.
  2. Use a good posture - A smart body posture shows off your confidence and power. It also helps you come across better in front of the other person.
  3. Focus on the tone of voice - Your tone conveys a wide range of information, ranging from enthusiasm to disinterest. The tone is an effective way to amplify your message.
  4. Use signals to add meaning - You can improve your spoken language by using body language that strengthens and supports what you are trying to say. This is especially important while interacting with a group or while making presentations.
  5. Consider the context - Consider whether or not nonverbal behaviors are appropriate for the context. Some situations require a more formal behavior that might be interpreted incorrectly in a different setting.

Why is the Body Language Important?

How you carry yourself in an interview can make or break the interview. The body language we have during an interview helps us form a stronger and better impression of the potential employer. It reflects how you feel about yourself and it could play an important role in how your answers come across. For example, if you're nervous, your voice will shake and your shoulders will sag as if you're trying to tell the interviewer that you don't know the answer. On the contrary, if you're confident, you'll sit up straight and your voice will be strong and calm.

Common Body Language Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Wrong Handshakes - A strong handshake can come across as arrogant, and a limp handshake is a sign of insecurity. First of all, it is important to shake your right hand and should match up to the interviewer's, somewhere between weak and strong.
  2. Staring or Wandering Eye Contact - It is important to make eye contact naturally, while also focusing on what is being said. Avoid looking away while you're speaking or even during pauses. If you look away, your interviewer might feel as though you're not paying attention.
  3. Bad Posture - Find a neutral but confident body posture, with your back straight and your head aligned. Slouching can make you come across as underconfident or disinterested, and stiff body language can make you look extremely uncomfortable and nervous.
  4. Touching Face and Hair - Try to consciously avoid touching your hair or face, even if it is a reflex or a comfort measure. It makes you look unhygienic and unprofessional, and it also grabs more attention than fidgeting your hands or shaking your leg.
  5. Wrong Tone or Voice - It is important to find a steady tone. A low voice projects nervousness and anxiety, whereas a high-pitched tone could irritate the interviewer.
  6. Fidgeting - This may prove to be a major distraction for both you and the interviewer. It is a sign of nervousness and anxiety. It may also make you look impatient, restless, and even impatient.
  7. Crossed Arms - Crossed arms could make the interviewer feel that you have a different opinion on the subject being discussed. It may also make you look defensive.
  8. Looking Too Serious - Looking too serious makes a person look too arrogant or like a "know it". The enthusiasm should be expressed as per the role you're interviewing for.
  9. Nodding Excessively - Nodding excessively gives off the impression that you are too eager to please. A nod once or twice is just fine. Try to avoid excessive nodding to make it look like you're trying to agree with everything.
  10. Lying - It is extremely crucial, to be honest during an interview. If you're not too sure about something, simply say or make a gesture that shows that you are saying the truth, and you're not lying to get hired or trying to gain some sort of an upper hand in the interview.

Final Thoughts

While multiple body language mistakes could be made during an interview, these are a few of the most common or important mistakes to avoid. There is a lot to learn when it comes to body language and nonverbal communication, and it happens during day-to-day interactions with the people around you. It does not just help during job interviews, but it also serves as a great tool for self-improvement and learning to communicate more effectively with others.

Your body language is a reflection of your subconscious actions and movements. Visual cues can help others understand your emotions better. Everyone has their own nonverbal behaviors, depending on their background and culture. It also plays a crucial role to present you better in front of your interviewer during job interviews, which could potentially make or break your interview.

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