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10 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in Job Interviews

10 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in Job Interviews
Credit: sharpshutter/Shutterstock

Your answers to job interview questions aren't the only thing that can make or break your chances of landing work. Body language also plays a large role.

Facial expressions, posture and other physical behaviors can reveal more about job seekers than the words they use, according to CareerBuilder. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, said your body language can tell employers a lot about who you are.

"Employers are looking for those nonverbal cues to indicate a candidate's level of professionalism and if they will be the right fit for the position," Haefner said in a statement.

There are a variety of body language snafus that job candidates are making, according to hiring managers. They say the 10 biggest faux pas job seekers make during interviews are the following:

  1. Failing to make eye contact
  2. Failing to smile
  3. Playing with something on the table
  4. Having bad posture
  5. Fidgeting too much in your seat
  6. Crossing your arms over your chest
  7. Playing with your hair or touching your face
  8. Having a weak handshake
  9. Using too many hand gestures
  10. Having a handshake that is too strong

The study revealed that nearly half of employers know within the first 5 minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position. By minute 15, that number reaches 90 percent. [50 Job Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer ]

To make the most out of your job interview, Haefner offers several tips, including:

  • Practice: Being prepared is the best way to avoid an interview disaster. Haefner recommends practicing your interview skills ahead of time with friends or family members. When you're finished, ask them for feedback on things like posture, your handshake and eye contact.
  • Use video: Job seekers can gain a lot of insight into their interview performances by making a video of their practice sessions. Haefner said watching yourself can help identify any mistakes you may be making unconsciously.
  • Know your elevator pitch: An elevator pitch is a 30-second speech summarizing what you do and why you'd be a perfect fit for the role. Haefner believes that this is a good answer to the common interview question "Tell me about yourself." In addition to having your answer ready, you should also be prepared to back up your claims later with specific examples that showcase your skills and experience.
  • Do your homework: Take time before an interview to research the company you are interviewing with and come prepared with several questions for the interviewer. Haefner said this helps show employers you're just as interested in them as they are in you.
  • Relax: Haefner said taking a few deep breaths prior to the interview can help relieve some of the anxiety that leads to fidgeting and other nervous tics.

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,100 hiring and human resource managers.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.