Appropriate Body Language for Interviews & Job Fairs

By Elana Goodwin on October 30, 2016

When it comes to talking to recruiters and prospective employers, what you say isn’t the only thing that’s important; what your body says is important, too.

Body language, though it may be subtle and goes completely unspoken, is a powerful concept that you can use to your advantage — if you know how.

Here’s a rundown of appropriate body language for interviews and job fairs.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1. Maintain eye contact. Though it may feel uncomfortable to look directly into someone’s eyes, especially since the bulk of our communication today takes place via screens and not in-person, making eye contact is crucial. Even if it gets awkward, you’ll want to be sure you’re maintaining steady eye contact with your interviewer or whoever you’re talking to at the job fair.

If you’re speaking to more than one person at the same time, give the person who’s asking you the questions your attention when they speak and then split your eye contact between the various people as you answer, giving each person a good amount of uninterrupted eye contact.

That being said, holding eye contact for too long or never looking away can come across as aggressive or creepy so time your breaks in eye contact with theirs so it doesn’t seem like you’re not looking at them when they’re talking to you. Finding that perfect amount of eye contact can be a challenge but it’s necessary in order for you to master that facet of body language.

2. Shake hands firmly. Since a handshake is what you’ll typically start an interview with, you’ll want to start off on the right “foot” and make a good impression with a firm grip. Don’t make your grip too firm or strong though as it’ll make you seem like you’re trying to prove something to whoever you’re talking to and/or break their hand.

Try to gauge when they’re going to break the handshake so you’re not left holding on to their hand when they’re breaking away or have them feel like they held your hand too long as you go to pull back.

Additionally, if you’re a bit nervous and the palm of your hand is clammy, aim to quickly wipe it before you approach your interviewer so they don’t have to shake your sweaty hand. Not only will having a sweaty hand not project confidence, but it’s not exactly a pleasant experience to shake.

3. Watch your hands. If you’re a hand-talker, you may want to make yourself more aware of your hands before you start going to interviews and attending job fairs. While hand gestures are fine when you’re making a point and making that point is helped by your gestures, don’t go overboard. Talking to a prospective employer shouldn’t have your hands flying all over the place; keep it natural.

If you’re not using your hands, place them on your knees so you’re not tempted to cross your arms, place elbows on the table, tap your fingers, or do anything else that would be off-putting and distracting.

Your body language involving your arms can make it seem like you’re defensive, bored, or actively listening, so make sure you’re cognizant of how you use your hands when you talk and what you do with your arms while talking or listening.

4. Check your posture. Your posture while talking to prospective employers at interviews and job fairs can be influential as well. Sit or stand up straight to project confidence and professionalism — never slouch. Sitting or standing straight — and being aware of it — will also help you keep still while you’re talking and show you don’t get antsy.

If you’re sitting, don’t sit back too far in your chair as you’ll seem too casual. Instead, lean in a bit and angle yourself towards whoever is speaking to convey you’re interested and actively listening.

Planting your feet can also help you not move around too much during your interview, versus crossing your legs.

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If you do have to change your sitting position at some point, try to not be obvious about it as it’ll make you seem like you can’t sit still for very long and haven’t been giving your interviewer your full attention as you were thinking about the comfort of your position. These body language cues can and will come across during your interviews so make sure to keep it all appropriate and professional.

5. Smile. If you have a face that rests more naturally in a frown, you’ll want to start practicing how not to do that well before your interview or job fair. Smiling, or at least having some sort of positive and engaged look on your face will convey your interest and make you seem more friendly while still being professional.

Now that you’ve got this brief rundown on body language, keep these cues and actions in mind going forward — having appropriate body language during interviews and job fairs may just help you land that job.

By Elana Goodwin

Uloop Writer
I am currently serving as the Director/Managing Editor for Uloop News. I've been part of the Uloop family since 2013 and in my current role, I recruit writers, edit articles, manage interns, and lead our National Team, among other duties. When I'm not writing or editing, I love being outside, reading, and photography! I have a Bachelor's degree in English with a double-minor in Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice from The Ohio State University. If you have questions or just want to chat, don't hesitate to reach out! Email me at elana@uloop.com.

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