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interview-body-language

INSIDE SCOOP: How HR personnel Judge Your Body Language During Interviews

How do you sit during an interview? Are your arms crossed, or on your lap? Do you lean forward, or lie back in your seat?  Those little details might elude you, but these actions work as non-verbal cues to recruiters, who have to differentiate multiple candidates for a single role.

You might be losing points and alienating the hiring managers without knowing it, so we’re here to help. Our team has been in the recruitment industry for years, and we have pulled together a mountain of tips about body language.

Here are some of the most relevant ones to ensure that you don’t give off the wrong impression during your interview:

Don’t cross your arms (or your legs)

According to a study on body language and the human psyche, crossing of the arms is a gesture of defensiveness. It also gives off the sign that the person is not confident or that he/she is in a undesirable place. These are all negative signs to give off especially during an interview.

Many people (ladies, especially) also cross their legs at the knees, but since that can get tiring after a while (and also be hard to get out of quickly), we would suggest crossing your legs at the ankles instead. You can swap over to the other side easily and also have the flexibility to plant both feet on the ground when needed.

This is less distracting and can help the recruiter to focus on your words, not your actions. The crossing of legs, like the arms actually shows defensiveness as well.

Lean forward, but sit straight

This is slightly harder to do, because many people tend to slouch when they lean forward.

A tip that we would recommend is to sit all the way back in the seat. Let your back touch the backrest, and try to make sure that you can feel the contact from your mid-back down.

You can then lean slightly forward as it shows that you’re interested in what the recruiter is saying. We’ve had many interviewees who lean back too much (and then cross their arms as well!), and that gives off the vibe that they’re looking to leave as soon as possible. When that happens, recruiters are bound to find this off-putting.

Make sure you know what job you’re interviewing for

Of course you should research the role before you turn up to the interview, but make sure you know what your day-to-day activities for the role will entail. In the F&B industry, for example, you’ll be on your feet all day, so recruiters tend to look out for people who look uncomfortable standing for long periods of time. What this equals in an interview situation is:

  • Candidates who have a limp (If you hurt your foot/leg, reschedule the interview. Recruiters don’t know if this limp is temporary or permanent.)
  • Candidates who keep shifting awkwardly in their shoes
  • Candidates who keep touching their faces (clean hands are the backbone of the F&B industry!)

Don’t fidget and don’t stare

Direct eye contact when speaking is important as it shows confidence. Naturally, we try to avoid looking at things we’re afraid of or are nervous about. Eye contact should be natural without widening your gaze too much. It should be relaxed but at the same time enough to connect with the interviewer.

“There was once I interviewed a candidate who for the whole interview, never once looked me in the eye as we conversed. He was staring at the table most of the time, so, needless to say, we did not see eye to eye” recalled Emmanuel Crouy, CEO and Co-Founder of GrabJobs.

Incessant fidgeting can also come off as more than a nervous tic, so direct your energy into other forms of movement (like gesturing, for example, or crossing your ankles). At the same time, ensure that you’re invested by shifting your gaze to other parts of the recruiter’s face instead of looking down at the floor.

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