How to Read Body Language in a Job Interview

How to Read Body Language in a Job Interview

Remote work is on the rise. Technology has made it easier than ever for people to get work done from home. Many are taking advantage of these developments.

As this blog has pointed out before, hiring managers and HR professionals will have to adjust their approaches to interviewing job candidates accordingly. Although many of your early interviews with remote candidates will take place over email and the phone, it’s still important to schedule some degree of face time with a potential hire.

There are many reasons why this is the case. One is the fact that body language can tell you a lot about a person. That is, if you know how to read body language.

These tips will help. When you’re conducting an interview, keep these points in mind. Interpreting a candidate’s nonverbal gestures and cues could provide a lot of information that might not be apparent from a resume.

Take It Seriously

During the interview, you should look for nonverbal cues. People sometimes don’t realize just how much information they share nonverbally. This is a mistake.


Some experts suggest that as much as 55% of communication during a normal interaction is nonverbal. In other words, paying attention to an interviewee’s body language is genuinely important. The way that people move can potentially tell you more about them than their actual answers to your questions.

Don’t Accept Slouching

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t reject a candidate outright simply because they slouch. This could be due to a medical condition which affects their ability to maintain proper posture.

In general, though, slouching indicates both a lack of interest in the job and a lack of respect for you. It may also tell you that an applicant isn’t confident.

Leaning back is another red flag. It often means a candidate isn’t engaging with the interview. When candidates sit on the edge of their seats and lean forward, however, it’s usually a sign of interest and engagement.

Watch for Crossed Arms

Applicants who cross their arms during a job interview might also be sending a message of defensiveness and indifference. When their arms are open, it typically means they feel comfortable and relaxed.

Again, this isn’t to say crossed arms are always a sign of poor body language. Some people simply get nervous during job interviews. Crossing your arms could be a subconscious response to anxiety. It’s also possible that a candidate is crossing their arms because the room is too cold. That’s why it’s important to place body language in context when evaluating it.

Pay Attention to Eye Contact

You want to know that anyone interviewing for a job at your company is willing to listen to their superiors. Thus, it’s worth paying attention to how well they maintain eye contact. If they look you in the eyes during the interview, it demonstrates that they are listening to what you are saying and making an attempt to communicate honestly and clearly. Poor eye contact could also mean that a candidate struggles to concentrate in situations that they find boring. This may mean they aren’t right for the job.


As always, this one factor shouldn’t make or break a candidate’s chances. It should simply be part of a holistic body language assessment. There’s no reason to reject a candidate immediately because they don’t maintain eye contact. Maybe they simply aren’t comfortable doing so. That doesn’t mean they aren’t listening.

That’s a good reason to ask follow-up questions during job interviews. Doing so can help you to determine whether an applicant is paying attention to you.

Compare Candidates’ Body Language to What They Say

Nonverbal communication tends to occur subconsciously. People often communicate their true feelings with their bodies before speaking.

Remember this when conducting job interviews. Although it can take time to develop the ability to recognize certain nonverbal cues, you should eventually reach a point where you can accurately identify when a candidate’s body language doesn’t match their spoken responses to a question.

For instance, maybe you want to know if a candidate is enthusiastic about working with team members. If they claim to be, despite crossing their arms, looking away, and leaning back, they might simply be telling you what they believe you want to hear. However, if they lean in, smile, and keep their arms open, there’s a good chance they are being genuine. When body language and spoken responses match up, it’s easier to be confident that an applicant isn’t trying to deceive you.

Of course, it can take time to learn how to read body language. You shouldn’t expect to master this skill overnight. That said, if you regularly conduct job interviews, it’s a valuable skill to develop. You’ll learn a lot more about candidates when you pay as much attention to what they say with their bodies as you do to what they say with their words.

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