12 Body Language Tips For Your Interview 2021 (In person and On Screen)

A blog post about Body Language Tips for your Interview 2021 – from visual communication experts, for the Great British company culture.

What is body language?

So you’re interested in visual communication and looking to get body language tips for your in person or video interview.

Are you aware that most of the communication between you and others is non-verbal?

Your gestures, facial expressions, the way you stand or sit are all powerful signals you subconsciously send out.

Those first 30 seconds of any interaction, whether that be a meeting or interview, are based on non-verbals.

Before we jump into our best body language and hand gestures tips, please be aware that some hand gestures can mean different things in different countries and cultures.

For example, the fingers all together, or pursed fingers facing upwards (moving with your spoken words) are generally positive in the UK and the USA, and mean that something is good or well… but this is not the case in all countries:

Body Language Tips for your Interview 2021 - Pursed Hand - JM&Co Recruitment Agency

  • Italy – “What is this” or “What do you want”.
  • Demographic Republic of Congo – A small amount of something.
  • Turkey – Indicates something beautiful or well.
  • Egypt – You will only be a minute.

How to express positive body language – Body Language Tips for your Interview (In Person & Video).

Eye contact during your interview (an essential aspect for body language during video interview).

How important is eye contact in an interview or meeting? Does it really matter?

“More communication is conveyed through the eyes than any other part of our body” – Body Language by James Borg.

This is especially so during a video interview… where maintaining eye contact to the camera (if possible) is an essential part of body language during video interviews.

1. Direct Eye contact.

Eye contact or eye contact cues, are social signals that indicate interest, and are used to help maintain social harmony. The use of eye contact cues depends on both the individual and the situation. For example, a person in a social situation may use a lack of eye contact as a way of being more friendly and polite. If someone has something important to share, eye contact is used as a way of showing interest in what is being said.

Whilst it is so important to direct constant eye contact and offer a genuine smile in a job interview or meeting, it is also important to be aware of your other non-verbal signals you are sending to a potential employer.

Hand gestures when speaking in your interview, help people to remember you!

Research at the University of Alberta found that “the very fact of moving your hands around helps you recall parts of the story–the gestures help you access memory and language so that you can tell more of the story.” – Dr. Elena Nicoladis 

This is also said to be true of people remembering you.  Hand gestures during a conversation help people to recall your dialogue, and they are more likely to listen to you.

The use of hand gestures and other non-verbal behaviour to communicate can create a feeling of confidence and ease during sensitive interview situations.

Take a look at these hand gestures and see how they can help you in the interview process or meeting, remembering to keep your hand gestures within your box (think of it as a screen if you’re in a video interview).  Keeping your gestures contained in your box indicates trustworthy and truthfulness.  Over expressive hand gestures outside the box or screen can sometimes send out a very different message.

Let’s take a look at these tips for job interview body language:

  • Open palms facing up
  • Open palms facing down
  • Open arms
  • Pyramid or Steepled Fingers
  • Low Steeple
  • Holding a ball
  • Hands behind your back
  • Numerical gesturing
  • Growth gesture
  • Coming together

2. Open palms facing up.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Open Palms Face Up - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

When researching body language, specifically open palms, we found reference to having an open palm shows that you are not holding a weapon, and as such, being non-threatening.  This, by all accounts, is how the handshake developed, but is this gesture that deeply engrained in our psyche?

What we do know is how we feel when we see this non-verbal gesture, and an open palm upwards, represents a gesture of approachability, sincerity, honesty, openness and acceptance… a positive cue for a potential employer.

3. Open palms facing down.

Open palm body language in general is often seen as a sign of approachability and openness, but having your palms facing down displays a more authoritative notion or a sign of strength… although being positive in the right context, be conscious of it being overpowering in an interview.

4. Open arms.

Body Language Tips for your Interview 2021 - Open Arms Face Up - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

Having open arms is a welcoming gesture, bringing the other person in.  When having your arms open (and close to your body, or within the box) it shows you are trusting, happy to interact or open to ideas.  Note in this image that the gesture is not ‘in the box’, giving a signal similar to “What?”.  Keep arms close to the body for a different gesture.

5. Pyramid hands / Steepled fingers.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Pyramid and Steepled Hands - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

Pointing your hands upwards, slightly opened and touching fingers (in front of your body) to create a steeple or pyramid, demonstrates confidence. A lowered gesture, when your arms and hands are on a table for example, indicates that you are concentrating on the speaker and listening.  Be aware that you don’t use this gesture too often.  However, it is great if you tend to fidget or play with your fingers… combine it with interlocking fingers for your own reassurance and inspire confidence in yourself and others.  This gesture is quite a personal one which I have found really helps me!

6. Low steeple

Similar to the Pyramid or Steepled fingers above, the low steeple indicates confidence but not in a domineering way.  Its is a great cue for someone who is listening and gives the indication that you feel relaxed, but professional.  Be conscious to use the low steeple positively in an interview.  If it precedes or follows a negative gesture like breaking eye contact, crossing your arms or crossing your legs, it could put emphasis on disagreement.

7. Holding a ball.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Ball Hands - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency - body language during video interview

Holding a virtual ball when speaking or putting your point across gives an air of confidence and enthusiasm.  It’s an indicator of control and is a strong gesture for any speaker when ‘taking to the stage’.  Used with other gestures like the steepled or interlocking fingers, this can be a really memorable interaction, but don’t over do it!

8. Hands behind back

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Hands Behind Back - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

Placing your hands together behind your back and exposing the most vulnerable part of your body is a non-confrontational gestures which signifies that you are open.  It gives a level of confidence and can be seen as being observant, especially when being given a tour of a business environment as part of the interview for example.

CAUTION – Holding your wrist or arm behind your back (especially the higher up the arm you hold) displays a defensive gesture.  The higher you hold your arm, the more negative you appear!

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Holding Arm - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

Memorable gestures (positive ones!) – Body Language Tips For Your Interview 2021.

9. Numerical gesture.

When you are speaking about a number (the number of people in the team you managed for example), try using a corresponding number gesture.  This will help form a non-verbal anchor in the conversation, which will be easier for the listener to remember.

10. Growth gesture.

When speaking about growth or taking something to the next level, try reciprocating this with and upward motion of your hand. This offers a visual cue for building on something and again becomes a memorable anchor in emphasising your point.

11. Coming together.

Holding your arms out at 90 decrees to your shoulders (with your palms slightly open) and bringing them together in from of your body whilst vocalizing about a union of a team or a process for example, can be a really powerful gesture of ‘we’ and coming together.

12. Negative gestures.

  • Hand rub — Okay in some circumstances as it could mean “game on”, “let’s go” but in an interview it would be used in the wrong context and could give a negative impression, such as “plotting” for example.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Rubbing Hands - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

  • Arms Folded / Arms Crossed — Closed or a protective barrier, discomfort, I don’t agree with you.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Folded Arms - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

  • Finger Pointing — Very powerful in the wrong way!  Overpowering, overwhelming and confrontational — if you have to ‘point’, try closing your hand with your thumb on top (in a semi thumbs up manner), using your wrist for motion.

Body Language Tips for your Interview - Pointing Finger - JM&Co. Recruitment Agency

  • Both Hands in Pockets — It’s okay to have a thumb out in a casual situation, but hands in pockets gives an impression of something to hide, nervousness, being insecure or lack of confidence.
  • Hands on Hips — This can give an impression of being overbearing or condescending.

Our research for this blog has been from multiple sources, but if you would really like to visually see how powerful some of these non-verbal hand gestures are, take a look at this YouTube video by Science of People:

In conclusion – Body Language Tips For Your Interview:

Understanding your job interview body language is an essential part of portraying positive non-verbal communication.  People’s facial expressions, arm movements, eye contact, and vocal tones will tell you a lot about them, but it’s the postural cues in their bodies that really speak the most. Posture is more than just how tall you stand. It includes your arms being crossed, how you sit, the way you stand, your hand gestures, your stance, and more.

Don’t forget to maintain eye contact, offer a genuine smile, think palms, open body and steepled fingers… and use the memorable gestures listed above.  Learn to be expressive without having “jazz

Job Interview Body Language Research and Kinesics Credits:

We hope you enjoyed our post about – Body Language Tips For Your Interview.