Mind your body language

January 2006

security - net body language'Actions speak louder than words' is a saying worth heeding. Lots of research suggests that what you do and how you appear counts for more than what you say. Here are a few tips on what to do and what to avoid when trying to make a good impression.

Do:

  • make eye contact with your interviewer when you meet and give them a smile. This makes you appear confident and relaxed.
  • take you cue on shaking hands from the interviewer. Make it a firm handshake, not weak, nor a knuckle breaker.
  • address your answers to a panel of interviewers by looking at each person in turn when you speak.
  • relax. Sit comfortably with a good posture in your chair.
  • keep your hands calmly on your lap unless you are moving them to illustrate a point. Only do the latter if you feel confident you can do it without looking nervous.
  • tilt your head slightly to one side to show interest in what the interviewer is saying.

Don't:

  • fidget (for example twisting your hair or playing with a pen) - it's distracting for the interviewer and makes you look nervous.
  • sit on your hands if you normally fidget. Practise talking with your hands calmly on your lap.
  • cross your arms or legs - they are defensive body positions and suggest anxiety or a reserved attitude.
  • slouch.
  • move your chair, unless, for example, you can't see because of sunlight. In that case, explain what your reason for moving it.
  • cover your mouth while you speak. It suggests that you are lying, as well as muffling what you say.
  • stare constantly.