Job Interview? Avoid These 4 Nervous Habits

By Amanda Cohen on July 18, 2017

Whether you have an interview for a full-time job, an internship, or even just to be a part of a club, there are some habits that you should try to avoid as much as possible. Even though some interviews do not have as high stakes as others, it is important to look confident, professional, and excited to be there.

When you are face-to-face with a person who holds the ability to make or break your career or give you a position in a club, it is definitely hard to avoid nervous habits that you may not even realize you are doing. I find that the more time I spend thinking about my habits, the less I will do them during an interview.

If you want to utilize my same methods, continuing reading so that you can learn what exactly you should try to avoid during an interview.

1. Playing with your hair

When most people are nervous the first thing they go for is their hair. Whether you are twirling it, tucking it behind your ears a bunch, scratching your head, or just stroking the bottom pieces of your hair, it is a bad look. No interviewer will want to shake your hand without some Purell if he/she saw you scratching the skin off your head.

What are the best ways to avoid messing with your hair and scalp? I personally like to clasp my hands together and set them directly on my lap. However, if you are a person who likes to use his/her hands while talking then this method may seem easier said than done. If you are a person who likes to use his/her hands, then just mentally remind yourself to place them back in your lap when you finish speaking.

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2. Shaking or tapping your legs and feet

The key to having any sort of success during an interview is to ensure that you do not do anything that may be off putting to some people. Personally, I cannot stand when I see someone shaking his/her leg or tapping his/her feet … it makes my skin crawl. This might seem like an extreme reaction, but many people feel the same way that I do.

In addition, shaking and tapping legs can signal that you are restless, which is not the type of impression you want to give during an interview. If you are a person who generally does this all the time, then it will be difficult to avoid during an interview. However, if you cross your legs and/or plant your feet firmly to the ground, you will be much less likely to have restless leg syndrome during your interview.

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3. Picking or biting your nails

Many people are probably thinking that this interview no-no is self-explanatory. However, when people are nervous, they don’t even realize that they are doing certain things. It is not a good look to be picking your fingernails, picking at your skin, or biting your nails; most people get repulsed by these actions.

I have a terrible nail-picking habit and I have to mentally remind myself to not touch my nails (no matter how discrete I am) while in an interview. If you want to avoid touching your nails, get a gel manicure before the interview. I know that gel is more expensive than regular nail polish, but it is so easy to chip away regular nail polish and is difficult to do so with gel nail polish. Trust me, it’s worth the extra money to avoid this gross habit during an interview.

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4. Twiddling your thumbs

Twiddling your thumbs signals that you are bored and disinterested. Even if this is not how you feel, the interviewer will see it that way and will think that you are not taking the interview seriously. I tend to crack my knuckles or bend my fingers in weird ways when I’m nervous, so I empathize with those who feel the same way.

Cracking your knuckles is probably one of the worst things you can do because it makes some people cringe and it also disrupts the conversation because there is a sound that comes with cracking your knuckles.

If you have an urge to do this, employ the tactics that I talked about when discussing why you should not play with your hair. Clasp your hands together and just rest them on your lap. If you find yourself in a knuckle-cracking position, play it off and pretend that you were using your hands while you were talking or play it off like you had an itch.

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Interviews are nerve-wracking and stressful, so I hope these tips help all of you reading this article. Most importantly, be yourself, have a strong handshake, have a smile on your face, and get ready to chat! Good luck with all your future interviews!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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