Ditch These 5 Body Language Habits Now

Nancy Anderson
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Poor body language may sink your chances of acing a job interview, even if you deliver stellar answers. In a 2017 survey of more than 2,600 HR professionals, CareerBuilder found that 51 percent of respondents decide whether candidates are a good fit in the first 5 minutes. Hiring managers pay attention to what you do almost as much as what you say. Watch out for nonverbal cues that may cost you a great job.

1. Poor Eye Contact

Does it make you uncomfortable to look people in the eyes? Try to resist putting your head down or staring around the room. CareerBuilder reported that 67 percent of hiring managers chose poor eye contact as the worst body language mistake.

While wandering eyes are a sign of insecurity and disinterest, good eye contact helps you connect and convey a friendly personality. Record yourself doing mock interviews to see body language faux pas from a hiring manager's perspective and practice maintaining better eye contact.

2. Slumped Posture

Most interviews aren't lengthy, so there's no why reason you can't sit up straight for 30 minutes or more. Good posture shows confidence and self-awareness — qualities that make you stand out as someone who can positively represent the company.

Make a conscious effort to keep your chin up and your shoulders raised and pushed back, which naturally improves your posture. When you feel yourself slumping, smile and take a deep breath to re-energize your upper body.

3. Negative/Neutral Facial Expressions

Employers don't want to hire reluctant or indifferent candidates; they want enthusiastic hires. In a 2017 survey by OfficeTeam, HR professionals were asked how much they use nonverbal cues to assess candidates. Facial expressions rated 3.96 on a scale of one to five and were considered more significant than other body language mistakes, such as handshakes.

While you shouldn't go overboard with extreme perkiness, make it clear you're happy to be there. Maintain a warm smile to gain trust and come across as approachable right from the start. Interviewers are imagining what it's like to work with you. Strolling in with a sour face or low energy is a red flag you don't genuinely care about the job.

4. Nervous Fidgeting

Fidgeting is a distraction to you and the interviewer. Whether you're squirming in your seat, playing with your hair or fiddling with your pen, nervous body language makes you seem restless and immature.

Conquer this bad habit by removing distractions from your environment whenever possible. Keep your hair pulled back and avoid wearing any jewelry or clothing that might tempt you to start fiddling.

5. Over-Gesturing

Gesturing is a good way to exude energy and build rapport with interviewers, but don't take it too far. If you tend to make big gestures, try keeping your arms bent and your hands at desk or chest level. That way, you're less likely to get too animated and wave your arms around wildly, which could make the hiring manager uncomfortable. You can also keep your hands crossed and flat on the table when sitting at a desk. A calm, respectful demeanor is better than frantic energy.

Don't let body language prevent you from succeeding in interviews. With practice, you can break bad habits and build confidence. What do you do to overcome body language mistakes?

Photo courtesy of Ahmed Mahmoud at Flickr.com


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Excellent advice @Timothy L. You ARE interviewing them. It's not all about whether or not they like you but whether or not you like them. If you don't like what they are saying or if you feel a negative vibe, walk away. There is no harm in stopping the interview and thanking them for their time if they can't look you in the eye and give you the attention a job interview deserves. We should always have questions on the ready to ask. More than just "what are the next steps?" And researching the company is a given. Why go on a stressful interview only to find out that the company is not what you were looking for. If research had been done first, you might not have set up the interview. So great job @Timothy.

  • Timothy L.
    Timothy L.

    I treat an interview as if I'm the one interviewing them, after all, I have what they want or need and they need to convince me that they are worth my time! If you can't look them in the eyes, look at their chin or hair. I bring a legal pad and take notes just like they do. I'll have questions written down ahead of time that I want to ask them. Do your company research before hand and incorporate that info into my questions.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ramona O thanks for your comment. It is hard for some people to look directly into the eyes of another. However, when it comes to something like a job interview, you need to find a way to do this. Practice ahead of time. Practice with a trusted friend or family member. Try taping yourself in a conversation with a friend and see how you look. That might help, too. Sadly, not being able to look into a person's eyes lends them to believe that you have something to hide. Does anyone else experience this issue? If so, tell us some of the techniques you use to overcome this.

  • Ramona O.
    Ramona O.

    I tend not to look at the eyes that is a bad habit I would like to overcome,

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