- 11 Common Body Language Mistakes (And How to Bust Them)
- So what is body language?
- Want to know about common body language mistakes you might be making?
- 1. Rubbing your hands together during an important meeting
- 2. Leaning back while meeting with a friend or close colleague
- 3. Crossing your arms during an interesting conversation
- 4. Not making eye contact
- 5. Making too much eye contact
- 6. “Shrinking”
- 7. Fidgeting
- 8. Making exaggerated gestures with your hands
- 9. Failing to mirror others
- 10. Turning away
- 11. Touching your face too often
- 20 Body Language Mistakes You Might Not Know You’re Making
- The Power of Body Language
- 20 Body Language Mistakes You Never Want to Commit
- 1 Crossing Arms
- 2 Crossing Legs
- 3 Touching Your Face or Neck
- 4 Touching Your Hands
- 5 Putting Hands in Pockets
- 6 Turning Your Back
- 7 Avoiding Eye Contact
- 8 Looking at a Single Spot
- 9 Standing in the Same Position
- 10 Walking Too Fast or Too Long
- 11 Repeating the Same Gestures
- 12 Splitting Your Focus
- 13 Having an Unbalanced Stance
- 14 Using the Fig Leaf Position
- 15 Using Weak Gestures
- 16 Fidgeting
- 17 Forgetting to Smile
- 18 Slouching
- 19 Gesturing Mechanically
- 20 Using Negative Gestures
- 25 Body Language Mistakes You May Be Making at Work
- Avoiding Eye Contact
- Maintaining Overly Strong Eye Contact
- Rolling Your Eyes
- Crossing Your Arms
- Watching the Clock
- Having Bad Posture
- Having a Weak Handshake
- Using Uncontrolled Gestures
- Not Facing People
- Exaggerated Facial Expressions
- Checking Your Fingernails
- Getting Too Close
- Holding Things in Front
- Picking Lint
- Stroking Your Chin
- Narrowing Your Eyes
- Having a Fake Smile
- Scratching Your Head
- Adjusting Garments
- Blinking Too Much
- Sitting on the Edge of Your Seat
- Stepping Back
- Not Smiling
- Photo: iStock
- Ten body language mistakes to avoid in an interview
- 1. The wrong handshake
- 2. Lack of eye contact
- 3. Staring
- 4. Bad posture
- 5. Too many hand gestures
- 6. Crossed arms
- 7. Looking too serious
- 8. Touching your hair and face
- 9. Excessive nodding
- 10. Fidgeting
11 Common Body Language Mistakes (And How to Bust Them)
The way you say something is just as important as the words you use, so you need to be extra careful in making sure that confused body language doesn’t muddle your message.
What about the 55-38-7 rule?
On lots of psychology sites and even in some books, you might have read that body language accounts for 55% of a communicated message.
The 55%-38%-7% rule, which states that only 7% of communication is verbal, has soaked into marketing canon–but it’s not actually true.
This “rule” is a study that was done in the 1960s by Albert Mehrabian, an Armenian psychologist.
But Mehrabian himself includes this disclaimer on his website: “These equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., –dis). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, [they are not] applicable.
In other words, he did come up with that equation, but its application is limited.
On top of that, no studies have actually been done to properly calculate how much of communication is body language. Let’s forget about the 55-38-7 rule and go back to the drawing board.
The fact that the Mehrabian equation is not universally applicable doesn’t mean that body language isn’t important–studies have shown that body language awareness is crucial for delivering a message–we just don’t have a number for how important it is (yet).
So what is body language?
Body language is an aspect of nonverbal communication where physical behavior is used (as opposed to or in addition to words) to convey information.
Body language includes:
- facial expressions
- the use of space
- eye movement
It’s also known as “kinesics.”
Interpretations of body language vary from country to country, and from culture to culture.
It’s important to practice awareness of how your local culture interprets nonverbal cues so that you can prevent miscommunications from occurring.
Many nonverbal gestures are made up of different parts.
According to Barbara and Allan Pease, authors of The Definitive Book of Body Language, “The shoulder shrug is a universal gesture that expresses confusion. It has three main parts. Exposed palms show nothing is concealed in the hands, hunched shoulders protect the throat from attack, and raised brows serve as a universal, submissive greeting.”
The expression you make when delivering bad news, the posture you take while leading a meeting–these are all manifestations of body language.
We express and interpret these bodily signs without even thinking.
Try watching one of Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies.
See how his eyebrows move, and how his arms flail during particularly tense moments?
His body language pulls us deeper into the narrative–when he frowns, we frown. When he runs off, we lean back in anticipation. When he tilts his head back and laughs, we laugh along with him.
Practicing these nonverbal cues is an important aspect of business etiquette. In order to succeed as an entrepreneur or manager, it’s crucial to communicate effectively, with our words and body language.
What about remote work, where meetings are virtual? Body language still matters. Many of these body language guidelines apply even when you’re not in the same room with someone.
Want to know about common body language mistakes you might be making?
It’s important that our body language synergizes with our words.
When they fight each other, our message is weaker. If you say, “I’m so excited for the party tomorrow,” but you’re slouched and looking off in another direction, it’s easy to assume that you’re not so enthused.
We can’t control all aspects of our nonverbal communication.
Have you ever been reprimanded in public by your boss, and felt your face getting red and hot?
That’s an example of a physiological change that’s nearly impossible to control. Here we’ll talk about the manageable ones.
1. Rubbing your hands together during an important meeting
This could mean, “Wow, it’s really chilly outside,” but in a business setting, it usually conveys, “I’m not buying it,” or “I’m not impressed.”
It’s great for intimidating someone you don’t , but if you’re listening to an employee presentation or meeting with colleagues, it establishes distance between you and your audience.
The fix: When you want to connect with your audience, keep an open stance. Leave your arms out on either side of you–resting on the handles of your chair, for example. This conveys trust and warmth and helps make your audience feel closer to you.
It goes without saying, of course, that the fix only works for virtual meetings if you have your camera on. If you leave your video off, you may not run the risk of looking unimpressive, but you also lose the chance to connect more deeply.
2. Leaning back while meeting with a friend or close colleague
When an employee walks into their boss’s office and sees her lounging back on their chair, feet spread out, the message they get is that their boss doesn’t care very much.
A nonchalant position this would be great if you’re close friends with your audience, and are simply going over their house to hang out or play video games. But in a business setting, it’s highly unprofessional.
The fix: Stand up straight. Keep your legs relaxed, but not totally straight (keep them bent at an angle, basically). Lean in if your audience says something interesting.
3. Crossing your arms during an interesting conversation
If you want to end a meeting quickly, then crossing your arms is the way to go. This creates a physical barrier between you and your audience, and signals, “I’m done.”
The fix: If you’re not ready to end a conversation, don’t cross your arms. It conveys aloofness and disinterest, and, at worst, hostility.
If you’re holding a meeting and see some participants leaning back and crossing their arms, though, it’s a great idea to wrap it up.
To take control of your time and properly schedule meetings, try using Toggl Track, a handy time tracking app that can help you figure out if you’re spending too much time in meetings.
4. Not making eye contact
There’s a reason romcom heroines often say, “Look into my eyes and say that you don’t love me.”
It’s hard to lie while making eye contact with your audience, because it’s such an open way of interacting with a person.
Avoiding eye contact reads as dishonest, or as if you have something to hide–and when you’re trying to gain the trust of a boss or potential business partner, this can be fatal.
The fix: Practice looking at people with a friendly, open gaze. Feel free to smile a little–they’re not going to shoot daggers their eyes! If you find it intimidating, try looking at the bridge of their nose (this works especially well when you’re speaking to audiences).
5. Making too much eye contact
Trained liars often practice eye contact, so don’t immediately assume that lots of eye contact is a good thing. Being heavy handed with the eye-contact seems aggressive, and you might even get a reputation as the office creep.
The fix: Don’t stare at someone in the eyes. Instead, make eye contact for a second or two, but do it often.
Shrinking happens often with women, who are more ly to be praised outside of business situations for being submissive and demure.
Unfortunately, lowered heads, hunched shoulders, and a “cocooned” stance tells your audience that you are submissive or upset. Shrinking conveys ineptitude and insecurity and causes your team and subordinates to lose trust in your abilities.
The fix: According to psychologist Amy Cuddy in a somewhat controversial TED Talk, people who practice expansive body language feel more confident as a result. Don’t be afraid to take up space. If you want to break into a managerial position, or you recently earned one, then claim your space boldly. Keep your head and chin up.
No matter who you’re speaking to, fidgeting tells them, “I’m feeling pretty nervous.” It undermines your message.
Think of your legs as your foundation–if they’re shaky, how can your audience be sure that the building is steady?
Readjusting your standing position, shaking your leg, or tapping it restlessly gives your audience the feeling that you’re uneasy, and they’ll feel suspicious of the information you’re telling them.
The fix: Practice speaking in front of an audience. Set up a mirror, or rope in one of your friends or siblings as guinea pigs to practice your presentation. Calculated, controlled movements are the key–by taking deliberate steps, you will look more capable and seasoned.
8. Making exaggerated gestures with your hands
Have you ever gotten really riled up about a topic?
Often, when people get excited or enthusiastic, their hands match their mood.
People are more ly to make chopping motions with their hands, point at members of the audience, and make other grandiose gestures.
Other movements such as playing with or twirling your hair, biting your nails and lips, and cracking your knuckles can create an air of insecurity (especially when taken to the extreme).
It’s okay to do these things once in a while but letting your hands reflect your inner turmoil signals a lack of control and confidence.
The fix: It’s okay to move your hands. But it’s important to know how to control them. If you’re making an important point, simply point to one side with an open hand, palms facing the audience. Lifehacker has a handy (hah) list of gestures you can use while speaking in public to convey authority.
9. Failing to mirror others
Our lizard brains feel happy when we see other people mirroring our body language. It helps establish rapport and capture attention.
Plus, mirroring helps establish trust, which in turn leads the way for deeper conversations.
Failing to mirror others can cause us to seem distant, aloof, and standoffish. When your body fails to react, it can make the other party wonder, “Are they really listening to me?”
The fix: Acting a robot and copying your audience’s every move is actually pretty scary–don’t do that. Instead, imitate them in simple ways. If they smile and nod, feel free to smile and nod. Mirroring says, “I am you, and I feel the same,” and establishes a feeling of security.
10. Turning away
When we hear news that we don’t , we often create barriers with our body that separate us from the messenger.
In some cases, if we can’t place an object (such as a desk calendar) between the person speaking, we turn away from them. Though our head might still be tilted towards them, our body often betrays us.
The fix: Unless the person you’re speaking to is someone you really dis, it’s best to maintain your relationship. Keep an open, friendly stance and an upright posture. Try not to cross your arms or hide behind a fence of office supplies.
11. Touching your face too often
Well all touch our faces. A lot. We were forced to confront this universal habit during the coronavirus pandemic, given that health experts all advised us against it. And yet it seems hard to stop.
Beyond health-related risks, face touching conveys discomfort. If you’re trying to close a business deal but aren’t sure about it, your partner might pick up on these cues and push ahead before you’re ready.
The fix: There are plenty of hand-to-face gestures, and they all convey slightly different feelings. It’s best to brush up on these before an important meeting or negotiation.
There are plenty of interesting, informative books that guide you through the complex science of body language, and alert you to possible mistakes you’re making.
I personally recommend What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro, a former I counterintelligence officer. The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease is another great resource.
As you grow more familiar with nonverbal communication, you’ll soon recognize the body language mistakes you make.
Using body language is a pretty intuitive process–you don’t technically need to take a class to master it. But reading up on different ways body language can be interpreted is a great way to boost your understanding and improve your relationships.
20 Body Language Mistakes You Might Not Know You’re Making
Want to crush your next presentation? The key is to make sure that you’re sending the right messages using all the communication mediums available to you: body language, tone of voice and words, combined.
Just think how many times you’ve seen presenters say one thing with their words but send a completely different message with their body language. They may express that it’s a pleasure to be spending the next hour with you, but their lack of eye contact and warmth sends a completely different message.
The Power of Body Language
Most presenters focus their preparation time on the words they will say, but research shows that body language accounts for as much as 55 percent of a message’s total impact. Meanwhile, your tone of voice accounts for 38 percent of the impact and your actual words for 7 percent.
This means that most of us are missing a big piece of the communication puzzle.
In her life-changing TED talk below, Amy Cuddy shows just how powerful body language can be. Not only does it change the way people perceive us, it also changes the way we perceive ourselves.
In her research, she found that simply practicing expansive, high-power poses for just two minutes prior to a speaking engagement can significantly change your attitude toward yourself and your audience, boosting testosterone levels and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Some high-power poses include:
- Taking up a large amount of desktop territory. This is perceived as a demonstration of confidence and power.
- Covering a large surface with your hands. This indicates a sense of control and dominance.
- Spreading out your limbs expansively. This also communicates confidence and power.
Although you might consider yourself a competent presenter, there are probably a handful of body language mistakes you’re making that could be sending the wrong message to your audience.
20 Body Language Mistakes You Never Want to Commit
Sometimes you don’t know what messages your body is sending until someone else watches you and points them out.
For example, many of us have nervous tics that reveal themselves in a variety of ways, such as touching our hair, constantly adjusting our glasses or jewelry, wringing our hands or shifting our weight from side to side.
All of these bodily movements are simply manifestations of what we’re secretly feeling or thinking. While some may believe that these are just cases of our body betraying us, the truth is that our physical movements reveal things we don’t even know about ourselves.
This is why one of the most important body language principles you can learn is to make a conscious decision to change your attitude toward your audience and subject matter before you give your presentation. This way, you ensure that your body movements will reveal genuine passion, enthusiasm, warmth and credibility.
1 Crossing Arms
One of the most common questions people have when it comes to body language is “what do I do with my hands?” And one of the most common things people do is cross their arms in front of them.
This not only sends a message of defensiveness and unapproachability, it also betrays nervousness and a lack of confidence. To send the opposite message, open your chest and arms, keep your back straight and your head held high.
2 Crossing Legs
Another big no-no is crossing your legs while standing in front of your audience. This communicates a lack of professionalism and suggests nervousness.
3 Touching Your Face or Neck
Touching any part of your face or neck is a low-power position (as opposed to the high-power poses mentioned above) and can indicate anxiety, nervousness or a lack of control.
4 Touching Your Hands
Wringing your hands as if you’re washing them is also a sign of discomfort or a lack of preparation.
5 Putting Hands in Pockets
Another defensive gesture is placing your hands in your pockets. It indicates powerlessness and shyness.
6 Turning Your Back
One surefire way to lose your audience’s attention is to turn your back on them. Not only does it seem to send the message that you don’t care about what they think, it is also just plain rude.
7 Avoiding Eye Contact
People tend to naturally pay more attention to those who look them in the eye. On the other hand, avoiding eye contact communicates a lack of confidence, openness and trust.
8 Looking at a Single Spot
Some presenters resort to the trick of fixing their stare on a single person or spot, but an audience can quickly tell when someone is avoiding eye contact with them.
Instead, try to look at different people and different spots in your audience so you make people feel important, sending a message of self-assuredness and confidence.
9 Standing in the Same Position
Another way to communicate a lack of confidence or security is to stand in the same spot during the entire presentation, as if there were invisible walls restricting you from walking around and using your allotted space.
One of the rules of high-power body language is to take up as much space or territory as needed—not make yourself smaller by limiting your movements.
Moving around during appropriate moments in your presentation will not only make your audience more attentive, it will also keep your mind more alert and help you channel any nervous energy.
Just make sure to avoid wearing stilettos or any other shoes that might increase your chances of tripping and falling.
10 Walking Too Fast or Too Long
Obviously, walking too much can also hurt your presentation. You want to move around when it makes sense to do so.
For example, if you’re transitioning to a different topic or making a new point, you might want to move to a different spot on the stage. Or if you’re addressing a specific person, you could also move closer to them.
11 Repeating the Same Gestures
Any gesture used during your presentation should be used to either emphasize a point, describe something, convey an emotion, express a mood or prompt the audience to take a specific action.
Most presenters, however, use the same gesture over and over again, without any clear communicative purpose. This only distracts your audience instead of helping to convey your message.
So try to plan varied gestures beforehand that help highlight main points. Even if you consciously think about them before your presentation, use them in a controlled and smooth manner so that they appear natural and not forced.
12 Splitting Your Focus
Dividing your attention between your notes, your slides and the audience is another way to lose people’s attention quickly.
Many amateur presenters unconsciously avoid making eye contact with their audiences by staring at their notes or looking at the screen every time they mention a new point. This will only serve to lose your audience’s interest and communicate a lack of openness and trust toward them.
13 Having an Unbalanced Stance
Standing firm, with your feet hip-width apart, sends a clear message of stability and confidence. Shifting your weight from foot to foot or standing with your feet too close together, however, communicates uncertainty and nervousness.
14 Using the Fig Leaf Position
We’ve all seen the figurative fig leaf position before: Both hands are clasped in front of the body, forming the shape of a fig leaf covering the groin area.
This sends a message of discomfort and shyness, suggesting defensiveness and the need to protect the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the body.
15 Using Weak Gestures
If you do gesture, make sure to do so in a well-defined, controlled and calm manner. Gesturing wildly, meekly or using your hands above the height of your shoulders will make you look control or not credible.
Fidgeting during your presentation can be extremely distracting to your audience. In order to stop these involuntary movements or tics, record yourself during a rehearsal of your presentation.
While many amateur presenters may cringe of the thought of seeing themselves on video, this is the only way to identify the movements we unconsciously make in front of an audience.
17 Forgetting to Smile
The best way to get an audience to and trust you is to smile at them in a natural manner. Many times we forget this simple but powerful way of getting your audience’s attention.
We’ve all heard this since we were young: Stand up straight and don’t slouch. Well, it’s some of the best advice you can put into practice, especially when you’re giving a presentation.
19 Gesturing Mechanically
If you don’t want your audience to think you’re a phony or just plain awkward, then avoid making mechanical, robotic gestures.
One of the keys to conveying the right signals with your body is to synchronize natural and smooth gestures with your verbal message. Speaking and then gesturing, as an afterthought, will distract your audience and make them doubt your credibility.
20 Using Negative Gestures
There are actually presenters out there who, instead of gaining their audience’s trust, antagonize them with negative gestures, such as rolling their eyes, nodding impatiently or pointing a stiff finger.
Avoid all of these, and become conscious of any inadvertent facial expressions that may belie even a hint of irritation or impatience.
What about your body language? What does it say about your attitude toward your audience and your message? We would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section below.
25 Body Language Mistakes You May Be Making at Work
When we communicate with another person, our brain can process more than what's actually being spoken. Our brains are making a comprehensive assessment of the person in front of us, and interpreting the unspoken communication of body language is part of that assessment.
wise, the movements you make are automatically being processed by the people you interact with. Body language may be responsible for a large percentage of the overall impression we make. Unless you've made it a practice to control your unconscious movements when you're in the presence of other people, you may be doing things that could leave a negative impression.
Here are some body language mistakes you may be making around the office.
Avoiding Eye Contact
Not making eye contact can leave a bad impression. It may signal a lack of confidence, trustworthiness or knowledge about your subject matter—and it can be unprofessional. Making and maintaining direct eye contact for at least three seconds when making a point can connect you with your audience.
Maintaining Overly Strong Eye Contact
Just as avoiding eye contact can be perceived negatively, overly intense eye contact may give people the impression you're trying to control or even intimidate them. Consider breaking eye contact after three seconds by looking to the side of the person’s head (don't look down).
Rolling Your Eyes
This can put off anyone on the receiving end of it. If you're in the habit of doing this, you should stop now. It may show that you don’t value or agree with what's being said, but in a way that's rude and unprofessional. At the end of the day, it can do serious damage.
Crossing Your Arms
This is a defensive posture that can put a barrier between you and the people you're addressing. It can be perceived as not being open, thereby limiting interactions.
Watching the Clock
If you check the time regularly habit, take your watch off or cover it up if need be. This may be perceived as showing disinterest, wanting to leave, not valuing the people who are present and disregarding what's taking place at the moment.
Having Bad Posture
Bad posture can be interpreted in a variety of ways, most of them negative. You should stand or sit up straight with your head held high, particularly when you're addressing someone or someone is addressing you. Slouching with drooped neck and shoulders can signal a lack of confidence and weakness, and also come across as uninterested.
Tapping your feet, fingers, twirling your hair or just making repeated movements for no reason can signal anxiety. It may give the impression that you're uncomfortable with what's taking place.
Having a Weak Handshake
A firm handshake can show confidence and that you're ready to engage the person, while a weak handshake can show lack of interest, confidence and enthusiasm.
Using Uncontrolled Gestures
If your hands are flying all over the place when you talk, they can become the center of attention. This body language may come across as desperate and also imply that things are not as they are. Controlled movements can place the attention squarely where it should be—on what you're saying.
Not Facing People
By not facing people, you may be signaling that you don’t value their input, which is disrespectful. Show respect by facing the person you're talking to, or who's talking to you.
Exaggerated Facial Expressions
Exaggerated facial expressions and nodding can be easily misinterpreted. Use words to agree or disagree with a person. If you have a point to make, say what you mean instead of nodding, shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders.
Tapping your feet, fingers, twirling your hair or just making repeated movements for no reason can signal anxiety. It may give the impression that you're uncomfortable with what's taking place or that you're in hurry to get there.
Checking Your Fingernails
This body language is a sign that you're bored and not interested in being there. Place your hands on your lap or at your side and put your undivided attention where it belongs.
A scowl can signal that you don’t agree and you're angry or upset. This could be your permanent resting expression, but if people don’t know this about you, it can be off-putting and make you appear disapproving of anything and everything. Smiling, on the other hand, can put people at ease and leave a positive impression.
Getting Too Close
This can be a clear violation of personal space. If you get closer than one and a half feet, it tends to make people very uncomfortable and can be seen as a sign of intimidation and aggression.
Holding Things in Front
Even when the item is essential to the conversation, you should limit the amount of time it comes between you and your audience. Either hold it to your side, or place it back where you got it. Having it in front of you can indicate you're not comfortable and that you're hiding.
Continually picking lint from your clothes is an action that can show indifference and a lack of respect. Whether it is a bad habit or your clothes need to be cleaned, you should avoid this.
Stroking Your Chin
Body language such as this, in most instances, can be perceived as being judgmental. Again, keep your hands the picture and firmly placed on your lap or at your side.
Narrowing Your Eyes
You might narrow your eyes when concentrating on something, but to the people around you, it can be misinterpreted as anger.
Having a Fake Smile
It can be easy to recognize a forced smile, which may be interpreted as being deceptive, inauthentic and not genuine. It's probably better to not smile at all instead of feigning and forcing a smile.
Scratching Your Head
This body language is an indicator of doubt, especially if it's done in conjunction with a facial expression. Once more, keep your hands on your lap or at your side.
Before you leave for work each day, make sure you're comfortable in your clothes. Continually adjusting your collar or clothing can indicate you're nervous and uncomfortable.
Blinking Too Much
Blinking too much is body language that can signal anxiety and nervousness. And since eye contact is an important part of effective communication, this can become noticeable and distracting to others and, in turn, make you self-conscious once you notice that they're distracted.
Sitting on the Edge of Your Seat
When you take a seat, sit all the way back in it and rest, so your posture is straight, relaxed and comfortable. This can show you're confident, while sitting on the edge of your seat tends to make others less comfortable.
Stepping back when waiting for a decision can show doubt and insecurity. By standing your ground, you can show confidence in what you're presenting.
While you don't have to smile, doing so can put everyone at ease. If you're someone who rarely smiles, you may be leaving room for negative interpretations and receive less engagement from others as a result.
Whether your body language is deliberate or habit, if you don’t know what it means, it can negatively impact communication, messages you're attempting to deliver and conversations you're attempting to have. Your attitude, the attitude of others toward you and even business opportunities can be negatively impacted as well.
Knowing the difference between positive body language versus body language mistakes leaves less to chance. If you catch yourself exhibiting any of the body language mistakes above, you can change them—all it takes is awareness and a bit of deliberate self-control.
Read more articles about leadership skills.
A version of this article was originally published on November 16, 2015.
Ten body language mistakes to avoid in an interview
Recent studies show that success in interviews depends 7% on what we say, 38% on our voice and grammar, and a gargantuan 55% on our body language. So whilst your standard interview preparation might involve hours reading articles and company websites, you’d do much better to use at least some of this time smartening up your non-verbal communication.
This is no easy task: most of us have little idea how we come across. The first step is knowing what to avoid. The second is applying this to yourself. You’ll need to ask a friend to be brutally honest or get them to video you. Once you know what you’re doing wrong, you can practice fixing it.
This way you’ll have both the knowledge and physical presence to land that great internship, place on a prestigious grad scheme or next rung up the ladder at a digital agency.
1. The wrong handshake
Handshakes are the ultimate first impression. Crunch the bones in your interviewer’s hand and you’ll come across as arrogant. Offer a limp leaf and you’ll come across as insecure. The best advice is to try and match the strength of your interviewer’s handshake — which if he or she is an experienced professional is probably somewhere sensibly in between.
2. Lack of eye contact
The inability to maintain good eye contact suggests low confidence and even dishonesty — not what you want your interviewer to start thinking about you the moment you’ve just met. Maintaining eye contact during the initial handshake is really important. Try and hold it for a moment longer than you might otherwise.
Learn what employers look for in a video interview.
Good eye contact does not mean staring intently into your interviewer’s eyes throughout the interview. That’s a bit creepy. Focus on listening attentively and eye contact should follow naturally from there. If you have two or more people interviewing you, attempt to make some eye contact with each of them individually.
4. Bad posture
So you’ve successfully negotiated the body language pitfalls as far as the interview chair. Don’t slouch back in relief — you’ll seem either overly confident or disinterested in the role.
By contrast, sitting on the edge of your chair, noticeably learning forwards, is a bit too eager school pupil.
So find a confident neutral position, sitting fully on the chair with your back and head held straight.
5. Too many hand gestures
Our media-coached politicians gesticulate constantly. In an interview you don’t need to follow their lead. Too much finger pointing or air chopping makes you seem strident, not decisive, and letting your hands flap around will just make them think you’re in a perpetual state of panic.
Take a practice run with our video interview practice test.
6. Crossed arms
Tempting as it may to lock your arms firmly away by crossing them over your chest, this isn’t going to help you come across well either. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap, gesticulating only minimally as you might in any conversation.
7. Looking too serious
You may be nervous and acutely aware that you want these people to take you seriously, but that doesn’t mean looking the cat just ate your canary. You’re interviewing for a job because you want it. So express your enthusiasm for the role and organisation in your face as well as your words.
8. Touching your hair and face
We all do it, apparently because it’s a proven comfort measure. But it looks so bad (and a bit unhygienic — would you want to shake someone’s hand after he’s spent the last 40 minutes rubbing his nose?). If you’ve got long hair, tie it back neatly so you can’t toy with the ends. And, make a conscious effort not to touch your face for entire time you’re there.
9. Excessive nodding
In interviews we want to seem keen and agreeable, but nodding all the time is not an effective way to communicate this. Instead, you’ll look too eager to please. Try and keep your head still. If you’re listening properly, then there is no need to nod as well.
Have you ever sat next to anyone who constantly jiggles his legs or shifts around in his chair? It’s annoying and distracting. Place both feet firmly on the floor then channel your nervous energy into thinking hard about answering the interviewer’s questions with all the knowledge you’ve prepared.
Read: 10 top tips for face-to-face interviews.
Prepare for your interview with Bright Network Academy
Find out what companies look for and how to prepare with the Bright Network Academy module on 'Acing an Interview'.