Did you know your body expresses emotion too? Pay attention to your body language and you might just ace your next interview.

Employer surveys conducted by Career Builder and Adecco suggest that every little thing you’re doing with your eyes, hands and body during an interview could be sending out signals about you that you’re completely unaware of.

- 67% of hiring managers cite lack of eye contact as the biggest mistake candidates make.
- 26% of applicants in an interview get rejected because they fidget too much.
- 21% of interviewers will reject candidates who give a weak handshake.
- 39% of interviewers are put off if a candidate fails to smile.

The Most Common Interview Mistakes

Once you’re aware of your body language you can take steps to avoid making these key interview mistakes in your next interview.


A study of eye contact avoidance led by the New York State Psychiatric Institute suggests that eye contact can trigger feelings of being scrutinized, causing us to feel self-conscious and look away.

> How to avoid: Practice with a friend to make yourself feel more comfortable using eye contact.


Research from the University of Hertfordshire shows that fidgeting lowers the stress hormone cortisol, so it’s typical that we do it during interviews. Playing with your hair, touching your face or other fidgeting habits sends the interview a message that you’re under confident and haven’t prepped well.

> How to avoid: Cross your hands in front of you whilst you’re not talking, but don’t stay rigid.


A scientific study from Uppsala University in Sweden suggests that seeing somebody smile stimulates our brains’ mirror neurons, inducing a smile in response and creating a mutually positive experience.

> How to avoid: Force yourself to smile repeatedly on the run-up to your interview; it can help reduce your anxiety and lower your blood pressure.


A study led by scientists at the University of Illinois has found that handshaking activates the neural circuits inside our brains, encouraging positive feelings of competence and trustworthiness.

> How to avoid: Practice shaking hands with a friend. Use a complete grip, a firm squeeze and three shakes while making eye contact.


A psychological study on posture by scientists at Northwestern University suggests that slouching is a byproduct of low self-confidence, and that adopting a more powerful, upright posture can boost confidence.

> How to avoid: Plant your feet firmly on the floor, push your hips back in the chair, straighten your back and rest one arm on the arm of the chair.


Body language communications expert, Joe Navarro, interprets arm folding as an attempt to deal with anxiousness or psychological distress.

> How to avoid: Make a conscious effort to keep your arms apart. Place one hand in your lap and rest the other on the table, keeping them ready to gesture naturally.


Emotional intelligence expert, Dr. Travis Bradberry, wrote that exaggerated nodding indicates an anxiety about approval, so it’s not surprising we tend to do this during interviews.

> How to avoid: Limit and control nodding to once or twice whenever relevant to the conversation, but if you’re unsure about what has been said, ask rather than nod.

Next time you find yourself at an interview, don’t panic! Just remember the 3 s’s; sit up, smile and shake hands to give the best first impression. For more tips on how to handle yourself during job interviews, check out the full infographic on https://www.onstride.co.uk/blog/7-body-language-interview-mistakes-avoid/

Author's Bio: 

Marilyn is a freelance writer and digital nomad currently living in rainy yet wonderful London. She writes (and reads!) about personal growth, productivity in the workplace, self improvement, and the importance of work/life balance and how to achieve it.