Career Corner: The role of body language

Marc DeBoer

Silberman College



The role of body language during a job interview can largely dictate whether you will be successful in your job pursuit or not. Many HR experts agree that body language accounts for 93 percent of messages you send out during the interview. Amazingly, verbal content is only 7 percent of the message conveyed during the actual interview process. Such statistics mean that you have to get your non-verbal communication right if you want to impress your potential employer.

Body language is fundamental to any interview process; you must at all times project a confident and respectful demeanor, not through words alone, but also subtly through your body language.

If you’ve been invited to an interview process, then here are some handy tips on body language that you should try.


Once you enter the interview room and you’ve already exchanged greetings with the interviewer, it’s crucial that you maintain a good posture once you are seated. Sitting upright is highly suggested as it indicates that you are feeling comfortable and confident. Hunching down simply indicates that you are nervous or are suffering from low self-esteem. Additionally, a sloppy posture gives the impression that you are a careless person. The bottom line is that you must maintain an upright posture, though not too stiff.

Movement of your arms

Your arm or hand movement and positioning can indicate whether you are nervous or confident. The general rule of the thumb is to put your hands on your lap or loosely clasped on the table if you want to appear calm or confident. Some of the hand or arm positioning that you should avoid include: fiddling with your face or hair (shows how nervous or anxious you are), putting arms above the neck (shows your uncertainty), touching your lips (shows you are lying), touching your nose (projects the image that you are insincere), folding arms across your chest (indicates that you are defensive or have something to hide).

Eye contact

Eye contact is another part of body language that you must get right if you are to stand a chance of being hired. Generally, it is pertinent that you maintain direct eye contact with the interviewer as it indicates that you are listening or paying attention. However, maintaining eye contact doesn’t mean that you should stare aggressively at the interviewer.

Failure to establish eye contact with your interviewer will send a negative impression that you are a person who is nervous with low self-esteem.

It can be argued that nonverbal communication is more important than verbal communication. Take the time to practice with a Career Specialist, a friend, or family member. Like the old saying says, practice makes perfect.

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