Body Language: 5 Non-Verbal Cues Job Seekers Need to Understand

Nicole Johnson —  July 15, 2015 — Leave a comment

According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, nonverbal behavior accounts for over 55% of daily communication. When it comes to interviews, it is very important to be aware and in control of your non-verbal behavior.

Whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, the interview is the time to use non-verbal communication to show that you are really paying attention. Most of us are not even aware of what message we are sending with our body when speaking with other individuals. The person we are speaking with might get an impression that is opposite of our intention. Below are a few common non verbal cues we may not realize are sending the wrong message to potential employers.

Body Language 1

Body Language 101: The Handshake

There are many ways to shake hands, but only one right way to shake the hand of a potential employer. No one likes a limp fish where you barely grab someone’s hand and it feels like a fish, softly flopping up and down in your palm. On the other hand (no pun intended), you should also avoid the hand cruncher.  Don’t squeeze so tight that someone might think you’re angry and want to break their hand. Stick with a firm handshake that shows you’re confident and professional.


Ever hear the saying “dress for the job you want” thrown around? Well it’s true! If you are interviewing for an executive position, look like an executive. Nice button up and slacks at the very least – or slacks, dress, or skirt. Even if you are interviewing for an office job or sales position, you should look at least business casual. In short, do your best to look presentable. Even though your attire doesn’t necessarily reflect your experience, your appearance does affect the potential employer’s first impression of you.

Eye contact

Look the interviewer in the eyes. It might seem a little scary at first, but once you get more comfortable in the interview it will be easier. Making eye contact shows you’re confident. Once you start looking away, staring at your lap, or glancing at your watch, the employer might assume you’re either not interested or can’t stay focused. It’s natural to be nervous, employers expect that, but don’t let your nerves takeover your whole interview.

Folding arms

Nothing says “I don’t want to talk to you” more than folding your arms. Folding your arms is seen as a wall you are placing between you and the interviewer. This non-verbal behavior shows you are guarded and standoffish. Keep your arms open, relaxed on your lap or your hands folded together. Use your arms and hands to portray a positive message.

Leaning back

Sometimes in an interview you might sit in a chair that allows you to lean back. Don’t do it. When you lean back, you might be giving the non-verbal communication that you are pulling away from an employer. Sit upright and with good composure. Use your body language to show that you are listening, interested, and engaged in the conversation.

All of these things can be mastered with practice. Sometimes it takes a couple of interviews to really get on the right track, but once you are aware of the non-verbal behaviors, you can learn how to correct them. Ready to start interviewing? You can start applying for jobs today by visiting the NewHire job board or follow NewHire on Facebook and Twitter!

Nicole Johnson


Nicole is the Advertising Coordinator for NewHire. She will get your advertising up and running in no time! Originally from Arizona, Nicole is a new Chicagoan adjusting to life in the city. Nicole loves to get crafty – from crochet to baking – she’s your go-to for all things handmade.

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