4 Body Language No-nos to Avoid in Interviews


Plus a power pose that channels Queen Bey.

Woman slouched over with hair concealing her face

You’ve scored an interview for your dream job (congrats!). You’ve done your research, practised your interview answers, and have even written a list of questions you’d like to ask your (fingers crossed) future boss. But, despite your excellent prep work, there’s one thing that could blow your chances without you even being aware of it: your body language.

“Body language is communication without words,” Shannah Kennedy, life strategist and business advisor from The Essentialists, says. “It’s a very powerful tool in an interview situation. You can show your confidence and attitude through body gestures, tone of voice and facial expressions.”

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The Essentialists corporate coach Lyndall Mitchell adds, “Those who have worked on and understand their body language can gain an advantage and enrich their interview process for themselves.”

It’s an advantage that can be the only difference between you and another candidate receiving the call with an offer. So, when you find yourself seated across the interviewer, The Essentialists say to watch out for the following.

Don’t fold your arms and legs
“It can come across as defensive and possibly arrogant,” Lyndall says.

Don’t look too self-focused
“This can include mannerisms such as twirling your hair, excessive eye blinking and shoulder shrugging,” Shannah says.

Don’t fidget
“This is a big no-no, so is scratching, tapping your fingers or swaying. It can be off-putting so try to make an extra effort to control this,” Shannah says.

Don’t slouch
“This takes away your oxygen to the brain and shows a lack of confidence, so focus on keeping your back straight,” Lyndall says.

It might even be worth grabbing someone you trust and sitting them down to help you practise. As cringey as it might be initially, they can point out any of your subconscious habits. They can also help you rehearse the ways you can own your interview – Beyoncé style.

Which leads us to the next point, so what should you be doing instead?

Firstly, before your interview, get into the right zone by practising a power pose. Harvard University professor Amy Cuddy recommends channelling Mick Jagger (or, in our instance, Queen Bey) by standing with your legs wide and arms stretched out above your head like you’re soaking up the applause from an audience. Do this for a couple of minutes – and preferably in a private space so you don’t risk getting thrown out of the building or looking like a narcissist. The bathrooms or lifts, if you’re lucky enough to be in there solo, are ideal.

Before your interview, get into the right zone by practising a power pose. Stand with your legs and arms stretched out above your head like you’re soaking up the applause from an audience.

Amy says this power pose releases a bunch of hormones to make you feel more confident. “When our body language is confident and open, other people respond in kind, unconsciously reinforcing not only their perception of us but also our perception of ourselves,” Amy writes in her book Presence. (Intrigued? We also suggest watching her TED Talk to find out more.)

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Once you’re in the meeting and ready to dazzle the interviewer with your answers, The Essentialists suggest the following.

Do start with a great smile
“This shows you are open and ready to engage. It will also help you relax and feel confident,” Shannah says.

Do make eye contact
“Making great eye contact is always important to establish trust with your prospective employer. It also shows you’re interested in what they may be saying and switched on to the interview process,” Lyndall says.

Do maintain a good posture
“Posture is crucial, so make the effort to really address this and practise prior to your interview,” Shannah says. “Aim for confidence, enthusiasm and natural warmth.”

Do watch your hands
“Keep your hands relaxed and use them to gesture slightly as appropriate,” Lyndall says.

Good luck. You’ve got this.

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Lizza is a Sydney-based journalist and boxer.


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