Want That Job? 6 Body Language Tips

Reviewed September, 2009

Janine Driver, "Lyin' Tamer"

body languageReading and understanding body language is critical to your success in a job interview. Non-verbal communication equips you to understand what an interviewer is thinking, helping you tweak your body language to get them to like you ... and offer you the job!

1. The wet fish vs. the bone crusher

The handshake tells a story about each of us. Do you shake hands softly? Do you come in from the top and deliver a "bone crusher?" Aggressive people have firm handshakes; those with low self-esteem have limp, "wet fish" handshakes.

A great handshake is a three-step process:

  • Make sure your hands are clean and adequately manicured.
  • Ensure hands are warm and free of perspiration.
  • Execute your handshake professionally and politely, with a firm grip and a warm smile.

2. The eyes have it

What's considered an appropriate amount of eye contact may vary in different countries. In North America, 60 percent eye contact is a safe figure -- one that can give hiring managers a feeling of comfort about you. More eye contact than this and you may seem too intense; any less and you risk appearing disinterested.

Eye contact tips:

  • When you meet the interviewer, look her right in the eyes, then think to yourself, "Wow, so great to finally meet you!" This will make you smile, and she'll pick up on your positive mood. When we look at someone we find interesting, our pupils dilate, a phenomenon the other person instinctively picks up on.
  • During a job interview, keep your eye contact in the upside-down triangle area of your interviewer's face: from the left eyebrow, to the nose, back up to the right eyebrow. Warning: Staring at a person's lips is considered sexual, while looking at their forehead is considered condescending.

More Telling Features:

3. Get it straight

Posture is an important thing to master on an interview: Get your posture straight and your confidence will elevate with it. Next time you notice you are feeling a bit down, pay attention to how you are sitting or standing. Chances are you'll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits breathing, which can make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.

4. Get a "head" of the game

When you want to feel confident and self-assured during an interview, keep your head level, both horizontally and vertically. Also assume this position when your goal is to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or other.

5. Arms lend a hand, too

Arms offer clues as to how open and receptive we are, so keep your arms to the side of your body. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way. Quieter people tend to move their arms away from their body less often than outgoing people, who use their arms with big movements. Keep gestures within the frame of your body, or you'll risk being seen as out of control. Avoid the negative action of crossing your arms during the interview.

Here are two common perceptions of hand gestures:

  • Palms slightly up and outward: open and friendly
  • Palm-down gestures: dominant and possibly aggressive

6. Get a leg up on the competition

Our legs tend to move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. As a result, try to keep them as still as possible during the interview. You should not cross your legs during a job interview, as it creates a barrier between you and the interviewer and may lead to fidgeting. When you cross your ankle at the knee, this is known as the "figure four," and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross.

Next: Body Language Photo Gallery >>

See Also:

Janine Driver, Lyin' Tamer, is a body language & deception detection expert, author, and contributor to NBC's Today Show. Janine offers her signature training to Fortune 500 companies across the globe, to give them an edge in the game of life! For your free mini-course on "Body Language Business Bloopers Successful People Avoid at All Costs" visit www.lyintamer.com today.

Copyright 2009 Janine Driver.

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October 11 2011 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert H. Goetz, Sr.

If you are a Tradesman, its even worse. Typically, one would think work experience and job extraordinary qualifications would suffice? But if you have any type of medical history now (in my case, I'm a Brain Tumor Survivor) you are regarded as "High Risk."

September 26 2009 at 7:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Body language??? OH GOSH! Come on! Don't be snowed...don't you people know the REAL situation in the country??...The last president left us with double digit unemployment for the 1st time since Ronald Reagan 25 years ago, and the current president hasn't yet fixed it. That means (you can look it up from the gov't's own statistics)we have currently 20-25 million too few jobs for our number of workers...or we have 155 million workers but only 130 million jobs....possible. The recession economy only has about a 5% job openings rate per year (out of the 130 million)and creates 'zero' new jobs (actually it's still losing jobs), so, about 6 million jobs will open this year for the 20-25 million unemployed...BUT...HALF of those 'open' jobs will go to employed people transfering from one job to another...so that's at most... 3 million jobs for at least 20-25 million job seekers (a chance at a job of no better than 1 in 12).
Until the government uses stimulus money to hire for millions of jobs, or does something to get private business to hire for millions of jobs, or forces babyboomers 62 and over who are well off, to retire, opening up millions of jobs....Your job chances are 8% of 100 (1 of 12) or worse...Body language means NOTHING...With 'these' odds... you better have a friend/ family member influencing the hiring....or your unemployed and out.

September 25 2009 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

after reading some of the comments of the people looking for work and not able to find work and loseing everything just keep hanging in thier times have been like this before the great deppression 1929 to around 1942 recession of the 70s just take what you can get even if it just pays min wage if you are working at a low paying job you got something comeing in and you can work your way up and have faith in god he will work us thur this

September 25 2009 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

paul you are right about eye contact i want to see what shifty eye person im dealing with.. most of the bone crushers are arrogant where do they get this crap from if you want to see what a dishonest person looks like and act just watch a politicion

September 25 2009 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why do you have your ads over the top of the article that I'm trying to read? It's a shame with such a good article that you place your advertiser ads over the top of your article. I guess you are not interested in people reading but buying your stuff that you are pushing.

September 25 2009 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't read half of the narratve because of the advertisements that come in on the right. What's up AOL?

September 25 2009 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can send resumes in for jobs and hold a BA degree, if you do not have experience you can forget it. Companies are not willing to train anymore, it's not like there's a booming economy to worry about falling behind production.

September 25 2009 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AOL overlaped a bunch of advertizments over the right side of this article so I couldn't read the entire thing. This isn't the first time I had to deal with ads when trying to read something on AOL. Anybody else have that experience?

September 25 2009 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Sam I tried that site adress and didn't get anything.

September 25 2009 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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