Body Language in Job Interviews: Do’s and Don’ts For Candidates

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 29 Apr 2021

Body Language in Job Interviews

You should be aware of your body language during job interviews as it’s a big part of how you’ll be perceived by pharma recruiters and hiring managers. The way you behave often says more about you than your verbal answers, so it’s vital to display body language that conveys your strengths as a candidate, rather than body language that will distract interviewers from your talent.

To help deliver your potential as a candidate through your behaviour as well as your speech, we’ve outlined the most important do’s and don'ts when it comes to body language in job interviews...

Prepare Beforehand

The way you walk into a building can affect the first impressions you create, so you’ll want to walk in as confidently and as prepared as possible. Do the following before you enter:

  • Arrive early to stop you from rushing into the building with minutes to spare. If the interviewer is already waiting for you inside they might see you as being disorganised.
  • Where possible, do a practice trip to the building and find the entrance/Reception area so you aren’t wandering around aimlessly outside on the day.

Move With Confidence

Enter by standing up straight, looking ahead as opposed to down at your feet, and have your arms on either side of you and not crossed in front of you.

Stay Professional in The Waiting Area

If the interviewer isn’t already waiting for you, don’t use the waiting area as an opportunity to scroll through your phone. It will be awkward if you don’t see them approaching because you’re replying to an email or liking someone’s Instagram post, and it will look like you’re not interested in being there. 

Deliver a Good Handshake

A good handshake is neither too weak nor too strong, as a weak handshake could indicate a lack of confidence, whilst an overly strong handshake could make you appear too dominating and intimidating. Keep it firm, make friendly eye contact and make it no longer than 3 or 4 ‘shakes.’ 

Maintain Eye Contact

Making eye contact with your interviewer(s) will show that you’re engaged in the conversation and that you’re genuinely interested in what’s being said. Be careful not to be too intense by constantly staring at the interviewer, as breaks in eye contact are natural during a conversation. Read more advice about eye contact in job interviews here

Mirror Your Interviewer

Mirroring is an interview technique that involves reflecting the behaviours of your interviewer, including their body language and other mannerisms. It’s a great way to build rapport with your interviewer and make them feel as if you’re on the same page, but be careful not to overdo it as it could come across as mocking. 

Sit Up Straight

Slouching will make you appear too relaxed and could be a sign that you don’t care enough about the role. Sit up straight and maintain a good posture throughout by keeping the small of your back against the chair, with your feet on the ground and your legs bent.

Don’t Fidget

Fidgeting will indicate that you’re bored or disinterested and will distract the interviewer from what you’re saying. Refrain from doing things like jiggling your leg, picking at your nails, tapping your fingers and readjusting your position every few seconds. You don’t have to sit completely still and stiff for the whole interview as this isn’t natural, but do be conscious of how much you’re moving. 

Don’t Touch Your Face

Touching your face lots throughout the interview will also be distracting, and frequently touching areas such as your nose or ears can even be a sign of dishonesty. Similarly, playing with your hair will make you appear overly nervous and even bored with the conversation.

Be Responsive

Show your engagement by smiling, nodding and even laughing where appropriate to affirm what the interviewer is saying. This will show that you’re actively listening and that you’ve got a personality compatible with the interviewer’s, which is especially important if they’re going to be your manager.

Keep Your Palms Visible

Where possible, keep your palms visible to indicate openness and honesty. If you’re sitting behind a desk or table, try not to keep your hands hidden underneath for the entire interview and open yourself up with hand gestures where appropriate.

Keep Hand Gestures to a Minimum

It’s natural to use hand gestures to exaggerate a point we’re trying to make and to help direct the conversation. However, using these too often is distracting and can make you appear less honest and confident in what you say. Don’t rely on your hands to deliver a message that you should be able to relay verbally.

And Finally, Practice…

Practice recording yourself answering common interview questions and watch it back to see what body language you use. You’ll find that there are things you do that you hadn’t even noticed before, so this is a great way to practice using more positive behaviour.

Follow this advice to make the interview more comfortable for both you and the interviewer, and to help create a great first impression. Remember that when used well, your body language can act as another tool to help deliver your potential as a candidate, so don’t waste this opportunity to stand out!

Visit PharmiWeb.Jobs for more job interview advice or to start searching for your next pharma job.