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How to Make The Best Impact at Interviews

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

Changing careers, getting that dream job takes planning and preparation. If this is what you're aiming for this year, you’ll want to read on for some amazing tips on body language for interviews. If you're interested in communication tips, you'll want my KAT tips which equally apply to interviews.

I’ll be taking you through:

· Grooming and Attire

· Handshakes

· Posture

· Eye Contact, Nodding, Smiling

· Hands

· Legs

· The Parting

As an interviewee, you should never under-estimate the impact of body language at any interview. Body language is any non-verbal communication conveyed to another person. Sometimes we are conscious of it and sometimes not. At interviews, the interviewers are watching you as well as interviewing you verbally. It therefore pays to raise your game around your own body language awareness.

Many interviewers make their minds up in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. You want to appear polished, calm, composed, confident and clear.

Having been invited to an interview, it’s vital to appreciate the importance of the initial greeting. This is your opportunity to make an impact. First impressions last. Good eye contact and body language has to then be followed through to the very end of the interaction.

Here are a few reminders with some tongue in cheek exercises for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re probably already doing a great job. If you need more support, why not get in touch?

Grooming and Attire

Dress as if you really want the job. Go further, dress as if you have the job. Your clothes must be smart and you must “look the part”. Whilst how you dress is not in itself “body language”, if you’re uncomfortable or if you’ve not dressed appropriately, your body language will speak volumes!

For most job interviews, both men and women must wear a smart suit. Men are encouraged to wear darker colour suits for interviews with a lighter (preferably white or pale blue) shirt and a sensible tie that is not too vibrant in colour or pattern. It has been known for people to arrive without socks (oh yes!) so do remember that you need to have matching socks and smart, cleanly polished shoes too. It helps to have applied a suitable amount of aftershave but be careful not to overdo it.

Ladies should similarly wear a smart suit, blouse, and smart shoes. Colours that are too bold can be distracting so keep in mind what the purpose of the meeting is and dress to get the job. If you are ever unsure of what you can wear for an interview for any particular organisation, contact me.

One tip – check the company website profiles and observe what the senior players or interviewers are wearing.


A firm grip is a must – avoid the charmless limp grip. A limp handshake, where one does not hold the others hand confidently and fully, sends out a message that you lack confidence or are weak. You may not think that you do but it is the impression created.

Your hands (and nails) must be clean, not sweaty and ideally not too cold either (in Winter you can excuse yourself in a light hearted manner for cold hands but sweaty hands do not go down well whatever the weather!).

If this all sounds a bit over the top, find a willing partner to practice handshakes on – try a limp one. How does it feel to you? Ask your partner what they think about your handshake? Now try a firm one (not too tight). Your “shake” should be 3 shakes, no less.

Whilst shaking hands, make eye contact and smile. Greet the interviewer with a warm, audible (not too loud), clear “Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you”.


When you’re directed to a seat, sit down when you have been invited to do so. Once you are seated, sit upright with your back firmly to the back of the seat. Avoid slouching.

Watch the interviewer. Observe his or her body language (not so as to make it obvious). Even if they are very relaxed, slouching or otherwise, this is not a signal for you to mimic them. At interviews, the general rule of thumb is to treat it as a professional interview, a formal situation.

Throughout the interview, your posture should remain upright (not uptight). Allow your shoulders to be relaxed not clenched. Practice at home in front of a mirror if you need to get a sense of how this feels: sit down in a chair, an office chair if you have one. Imagine you are at an interview slouching lazily and observe how you are sitting. Can a partner observe with you? Now sit upright with your hands together on your lap (to avoid fidgeting). Does this feel different? Could it affect your demeanour at a real interview?

Avoid folding your arms as this can be interpreted as being guarded or defensive (even if it is the most comfortable position for you). Also avoid having your arms and hands anywhere but on your lap – no waving arms about, no crossed arms across the desk in front of you and so on.

Eye Contact, nodding and smiling

It’s sensible to offer a nod periodically in a meeting as it can demonstrate you are listening carefully. It should of course be combined with good eye contact! If you are being interviewed by more than one person, it is in your interests to talk to all the interviewers, making eye contact with them all throughout the meeting, albeit that one will take the lead.

Similarly, smiling during the discussion is acceptable and encouraged at appropriate intervals. Do not over-smile though as this can suggest desperation or a lack of confidence. You may be very excited about the opportunity but remain composed and professional.

Hands and arms during the interview

What can you do with your hands at an interview? The simplest thing to remember is to just keep hands on laps. It’s perhaps easier to remember what not to do!

Do not clench fists

Do not rest arms on back of chairs

Do not play with your hands or tap the table

Do not point

Don’t put your hands towards your mouth

Don’t put your hands behind your back

Do not put your forearms on the desk if there is one

Do not fold your arms

Do not rest your chin in your hands

Do not rub any part of your face or neck

Do not flick you hair with your hands

As a general rule, do not fidget in any of the above or other ways as this suggests a lack of confidence, disinterest or plain rudeness. If you find you are not interested in the role as the meeting progresses, it’s polite to remain focused.

Some hand gestures are appropriate where combined with a genuine enthusiasm for what you are saying (In which case, hand gestures tend to come naturally) but they should be kept to a minimum. If you have a tendency to extend arms throughout a conversation, you may need to find a way to reduce this.

Legs and feet during the interview

What is your most comfortable sitting position? Now ask yourself, is this suitable for an interview? If not, practice getting comfortable in a formal setting.

You must not, even accidentally, shake your legs up and down, tap your feet or tap on your legs as any such movements can be interpreted as a lack of confidence or boredom.

Keep the bottom half of your body still and you will be fine.

The Parting

Finally, as important as the greeting is the parting. Be graceful, be polite. Once again, a firm, short handshake, and something along the lines of “thanks for your time, it was good to meet you and learn more about the role”.

Good luck!

Need some more tailored guidance? Or are you in a senior role?

The interview is about more than what you say

If you feel you are not getting far in interviews or you just want to up your game, contact me today at I’ve helped professionals to draft their perfect CV and with interview technique, business planning and presentation for over 15 years. I’m on your side and I’m totally impartial, so contact me today. 07961 111 255

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