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Landing your dream job: interview body language

There's a lot to think about when you have an interview for the big job you've been dreaming about for years.

You have studied the organisation and know it inside and out. You've practiced perfect answers to all possible questions they could ask. But did you know that even perfectly crafted answers may not be enough to make an impression to land you the job?

With up to 95% of messages communicated nonverbally, and 55% of your first impression coming from your body language it is vitally important that you are aware of what your body is saying to potential employers.

So to make sure that you project the confidence and professionalism needed to wow the interview panel, we've put together some quick and easy tips to help you ace your next interview.

Hand shake 

Make a good first impression with a world class handshake

We all know that walking into an interview is a nerve wracking experience. But your first impression with the interview panel can really last, and in most cases this first impression comes from a handshake.

You would be surprised how much you can tell about a person from their handshake.

A perfectly executed firm shake can give the impression of confidence and professionalism you want to project to your potential employers. Be careful though, a limp 'dead fish' handshake can suggest weakness and insecurity, while a vice like grip can make you look arrogant.

Use our tips below to execute a world class handshake that will kick your interview off on the right note.

The perfect handshake

  • Use your right hand (even if you are left handed)
  • Be firm with your grip and confident
  • Smile and make eye contact with the other person.

Be careful to avoid

Having sweaty hands. No one likes shaking a damp hand so give them a quick wipe before you go in.

People at interview 

Show your confidence with excellent posture

Remember when mum used to tell you to sit up straight? Well having the perfect posture while sitting is not only great for your back, but can be surprisingly effective in conveying confidence to an interview panel.

The perfect sitting position

  • Sit tall with your back straight and shoulders back
  • Distribute your weight evenly on both hips so you sit upright
  • Bend your knees at a right angle to the floor
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.

Be careful to avoid

  • Slouching or lounging in the chair
  • Crossing your arms
  • Putting your hands in your pockets

People making eye contact 

Use the perfect amount of eye contact

Did you know that maintaining eye contact can make you seem more reliable, warm, sociable, honest and confident? All the things you want your potential employer to think about you!

During your interview you should spend about two-thirds of the time looking your interviewers in the eyes, while the remaining third you can look away.

Be careful though!

If you lock eyes with someone for an extended period of time you can come across as aggressive and maybe even a little creepy.

Ricky Bobby 

What to do with your hands

Everyone can get a little expressive with their hands when they get excited or nervous, and an interview certainly is no different. We've also all had that awkward moment when you're not quite sure what to do with your hands and find the most awkward place possible to put them.

However open and expressive physical gestures can work in your favour and involve the interviewer in what you are saying. But be sure to keep any of your hand gestures smooth, measured and natural, and don't use too many or forced gestures.

If you're unsure of where to place your hands, don't be afraid to place them on the table or rest your arm on the arm of your chair (making sure to make sure you're sitting correctly of course).

Make sure you avoid

  • Banging on the table or pointing at interviewers. This can come across as aggressive and intimidating
  • Sitting with both hands in your lap under the table and wringing your hands. This will make you look nervous and uncomfortable.

Excited businessman 

Show your enthusiasm for the job

While using body language to show that you are confident is important during an interview, it's also important to show your interviewers that you are excited and eager about landing the job and working for their business.

Show how enthusiastic you are and how much you want the job by using these easy body language techniques:

  • Keep an interested expression for the entire interview
  • Smile, nod at what interviews say, and make positive gestures

But be careful!

Make sure you only nod in moderation; no one wants to look like a jack-in-a-box during an interview!

Remember to stay tuned to Canvas over the coming months as we bring your more tips and tricks to help you to turn your UC degree into your dream job.

Words by Daniel Murphy

Sources:,, ,,

Images: reynermedia, Highways England, Rosenrot, Matossian Eye Associates, Mary

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