The Top Ten Body Language Mistakes Job Candidates Make – Part 2

Last time we covered the first five body language mistakes job seekers make when interviewing. To recap, they were:

1. Failure to make positive eye contact.

2. Lack of a smile.

3. Poor posture.

4. Fidgeting.

5. Poor handshakes.

Now for the remainder of the Top Ten Body Language Mistakes Job Candidates Make:

6. Closed body language. Crossing the arms is the classic closed body language, so if you are a natural arm crosser, you’ll need to find another way to be comfortable. Closed body language includes a tensing and holding of the muscles, closed or clenched hands, stiffening, and other similar actions. Note how Charles’ body language is quite closed with the crossing of his arms, plus his scowl. This tells others, “keep away!”

7. Overuse of hand gestures. While some people are naturally ‘hand-talkers,’ an overuse of hand gestures conveys nervousness and can be off-putting to many interviewers.

8. Underuse of hand gestures. Some hand gestures are natural, but gesturing too little may be taken as a sign of disengagement, low energy, and a being slow worker. In the picture above, right, Leshana is clasping her arms behind her neck and hunching over, projecting an almost depressed image because her hands are not free to help convey her thoughts.

9. Too bubbly. Sometimes when people get nervous they talk too much and tend to speak a lot without saying anything (meaningful). Sometimes nervous energy causes people to talk in a higher tone of voice that can also be distracting. Aim for an energy level slightly above that of your interviewer, and at about the same rate of speech as your interviewer.

10. Defensiveness. Facial expressions harden, eye contact diminishes, and the body language becomes closed. Small hand gestures close to the body and hanging the head also signal defensiveness. Defensive people generally make very poor employees.

Every person has a body language that feels natural to him or her, and people seem to be more comfortable when interacting with others who possess similar body language to them. It is a best practice in an interview setting to mirror positive body language your interviewer exhibits.

Videotaping your own mock interviews are a great way to identify your obvious body language mistakes. Work with a friend who will play the role of interviewer and ask you a series of interview questions. Respond as you would in an actual interview. Videotape five to ten minutes of interviewing, then play back the video and identify your body language strengths and mistakes. Then tape another segment to see how you improved. Continue this process for a few rounds until you are confident of your body language. Most laptops have a built in camera and come with basic video software that will be sufficient to videotape your mock interview – even smartphones can do this with their built in applications.

This article is excerpted from the 2013-2014 edition of the GEPA Development Guide℠, the career search textbook published by Boyer Management Group (BMG). BMG works with employers and job seekers alike to help both become more successful. For employers, we offer world-class talent acquisition and onboarding tools, training and programs, including management/leadership development training, as well as programs for new managers and supervisors. For job seekers, we offer the world’s first assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging career search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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