Guide: Using Body Language for an Interview (With 9 Ways)

Updated 12 January 2023

Body language is how you communicate non-verbally through the use of movements and gestures. An interviewer may consciously or unconsciously notice your body language during a job interview, and it may influence their hiring decision. Understanding how to control your body language when you interview for a job can help the interviewer see you as a strong candidate who's confident in yourself. In this article, we provide tips for using body language for an interview to your advantage.

Related: 5 Communication Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

9 ways to use body language for an interview

When you think about ways to use body language for an interview, you may consider how its usage varies between cultures. Some aspects of body language have different meanings in certain cultures, so it pays to be mindful of both yours and your interviewer's. Also, if you're unable to practise a certain technique, there are other methods you may use. Here are nine ways to incorporate body language during a job interview:

1. Make a confident entrance

When you attend an in-person job interview, you may have to wait in a waiting area before entering the interview room. When the interviewer calls you into their office or meeting room, you can make a good impression by entering the room confidently. Stand tall and upright, if you're able to. Keep your hands and arms at your side, and look up rather than down at the floor.

If you're carrying a bag or other personal belongings with you, ensure that you collect all your things before you stand up and walk toward the interviewer. By assembling all your items, you can pick up everything at once. This action can help you appear more organised.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

2. Mirror the interviewer's movements

Mirroring is the process of mimicking someone's movements and gestures. You may engage in this behaviour unconsciously when you interact with someone you know well, like a friend or family member. A job candidate can use this technique to actively develop a bond with their interviewer.

Instead of copying the interviewer's actions exactly, you can adjust your movements and posture to reflect those of the interviewer. Only mirror positive dispositions, and be selective in which ones you choose to reflect. For example, if the interviewer has interlaced their fingers in front of them on their desk, you can mirror this motion on your side of the desk. Mirror their movements subtly so that you can primarily focus on responding to the interviewer's questions and engaging in meaningful conversation with them.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

3. Use eye contact appropriately

Another tip for using body language to gain an interviewer's favour is to use eye contact appropriately. Eye contact can show interest and attentiveness, so try to make eye contact with the interviewer instead of looking at your hands or the floor. You may look away for brief moments to make yourself and the interviewer more comfortable. You may also incorporate natural breaks in eye contact by recording notes about the interview on a piece of paper if applicable.

If you're facing an interview panel, make a conscious effort to engage in eye contact with each person. If one interviewer is speaking, make eye contact with them. Once someone new starts speaking, you can shift your eye contact to the new person. As you're speaking, you may allow your eye contact to shift between each person in the room so that you can show that you value their attention equally. If you have difficulty engaging in eye contact, you can use nonverbal vocalisations to show that you're engaged in the conversation.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Tips)

4. Smile at appropriate times

During your interview, you can maintain a pleasant demeanour by smiling when this behaviour suits the conversation. You may laugh to show your amusement at an interviewer's jokes or lighthearted comments. You may also express enthusiasm or surprise by widening your eyes and raising your eyebrows as appropriate.

If the interviewer addresses more serious subjects at any point during the interview, you can adjust your facial expressions for these moments. For example, an interviewer may mention that a former employee left the organisation due to personal reasons and now the position for which you're applying is available. During a moment like this, you can keep a neutral and attentive facial expression to show that you're listening and have empathy for the situation.


  • How to Ace an Interview in 8 Steps (With Additional Tips)

  • 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

5. Use subtle hand gestures

You can use subtle hand gestures when you're talking to emphasise specific points. Use smooth and fluid gestures that align with what you're saying, and try to have the rhythm of your movements match your speech pattern. You may practise responding to interview questions at home to see what hand movements you include naturally.

Then, you can add more gestures if you rarely talk with your hands. Only incorporate movements that you'd be able to replicate in an interview setting without thinking about them too much. You may also obtain advice from friends and family members about how you look when using your hands while talking and what movements you may consider incorporating.

Related: 12 Essential Communication Techniques for All Professionals

6. Nod your head to show you're listening

One element of a successful interview is to engage in active listening. While you're responsible for answering any questions that the interviewer asks and providing information about yourself, you can also listen to the interviewer when they talk. The interviewer may have important information to share regarding the available position's requirements and the work environment. You can show that you're listening by nodding your head appropriately. You may also tilt your head to show that you're thinking about what they're saying and committing to remembering it.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Shake the interviewer's hand

You may shake the interviewer's hand when you first arrive for the interview. You can initiate the handshake by extending your hand and waiting for the interviewer to offer their hand to you. Grasp the interviewer's hand with a firm grip and maintain it for approximately two seconds while you introduce each other. If you don't feel comfortable initiating the handshake or are unsure of the interviewer's preferences, you can wait for them to initiate this greeting.

As you shake the interviewer's hand, you can make eye contact with them, nod and smile. After you shake the interviewer's hand when you're both standing up, you can allow the interviewer to sit down first as a sign of respect. Upon leaving the interview, you may stand up and initiate another handshake to thank the interviewer for their time. With this departing handshake, you can follow the same guidelines by making eye contact, nodding and smiling.

Related: How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview

8. Sit in a relaxed position with an upright posture

If you're attending an interview in which you and the interviewer are sitting down, you can assume a relaxed position and an upright posture as your physical condition allows. You may sit against the back of your chair as long as you don't assume a position that's overly slouched. If you cannot assume an upright posture, do your best to remain looking up at the interviewer. Instead of crossing your arms, which can create a defensive position, try to maintain an open posture. If you're unsure of what to do with your hands, you have several options.

If you're sitting at a table, you may interlace your fingers and rest them on the top of the table. You can also fold one hand over the other on top of a table so that you can assume a relaxed and confident position. If you don't have a table, you can create a steeple position in which you hold your hands in front of your body and allow your fingertips to touch. Any of these hand positions can help prevent you from fidgeting, which may help you portray more self-confidence.

Related: Improve Your Nonverbal Communication Skills

9. Lean toward the interviewer when they're speaking

While you assume a strong posture, you can also lean toward the interviewer when they're speaking. When it's your turn to speak, you may once again enter your upright position. Alternating between these positions can show your engagement in the conversation and help prevent any impressions that you're nervous or stiff.

Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.

Explore more articles

  • What Do Plumbers Do? A Complete Guide of Duties and Skills
  • Is a Scrum Master Certification Worth It? (With Benefits)
  • How to Become an Education Consultant: Steps and Salary
  • What is a Data Entry Job? (With FAQs and Types)
  • What Is Agricultural Engineering? (With Duties and Skills)
  • Are Salesforce Certifications Worth It? (With Examples)
  • What Is a Medical Coder? (With FAQs)
  • What Are Nursing Selection Criteria? (With Examples)
  • How to Become a PE Teacher (and Frequently Asked Questions)
  • What Does An Aluminium Fabricator Do? (A Full Guide)
  • What Is a Produce Worker and What Do They Do? (With FAQs)
  • Guide: How To Choose a Career