Movement: A dynamic interview

Nodding your head while speaking is another good way to support your words or add meaning to them. Hand movements can also help to liven up the interview. The fact that you dare to make movements with your hands during an interview might indicate that you feel at ease. In most cases it is better not to make too many hand movements at the start of the interview but add them slowly throughout the interview, and don’t forget to pay attention to your interview partners as well: If they use their hands a lot to make things clear, you can mirror this behaviour.

If they don’t make many movements, it is better if you don’t either. Just the same as with body posture, it is important to tune your movements to those of the other person. Also pay attention to inadvertent movements that you may make sometimes due to nervousness. For example, shuffling your feet or kicking against the leg of a table can be very irritating for other people. Drumming with your fingers or clicking with a pen also won’t be a great contribution to the interview. So pay attention!

When should you look at someone?

During the job interview it is important to make eye contact with all the interview partners to an equal extent. By looking directly at the other person we are giving them a sign of trust. By looking directly at people we are also in control of the conversation.

Looking directly at somebody or looking away actually serves as the dots and commas in our spoken sentences. When one of the committee members explains something or poses a question, keep looking at this person for as long as he or she is speaking. This shows that you’re listening. While they are speaking they may also look at the other people, but every time they want to emphasise something they will look at you again. You can then nod to indicate understanding, and to encourage them to continue talking. At the end of the question, they will probably keep looking at you with a slight upward tilt of the head to invite you to answer.

When you answer a question, you should look first at the person who posed the question, but while you answer you should take turns looking at the other interview partners as well. You should direct yourself again to the person who posed the question when you want to emphasise something and at the end of your answer.

Pay attention to the body language of the interviewers

Apart from paying attention to your own body language, it is also important to see how your interview partners behave. The postures and movements of other people can give you an impression of how you are coming across to them. This can serve as a warning at an early stage that you might be doing something wrong that you are not aware of. For example, when the committee members are of the opinion that you hold the floor for too long or you annoy them with your interruptions, they will show their irritation first through their body language. If the panel members shake their heads, sigh or fold their arms and lean back, you can take this as a sign of displeasure. Usually it is not too late to change this as their body language also takes place subconsciously. However, don’t wait too long because their irritation will soon transfer to their consciousness.

Do not worry too much about looking tense

Knowledge of body language can help you improve the mutual tuning during an interview. You can use this knowledge to hide your nervousness a little, but actually this is something you shouldn’t worry about too much. Many applicants are nervous during an interview and of course they would much prefer not to let this nervousness show. However, it’s not such a bad thing to be nervous. The panel members will understand this. Your nervousness may even show that this job is important to you. If you  sit a little nonchalantly, it might indicate that you are not that interested.

In addition any job interview is more than just a means for the employer to determine which of the candidates is most suitable for the job. More importantly it is  a moment of mutual acquaintance. It’s a first meeting with people that you might soon work together with. Therefore the boss should actually be just as nervous as you are.  In some ways you are interviewing them.

About the author:
Frank van Marwijk is a sociotherapist and the director of Bodycom (Bodily Communication), a body language consultancy in the Netherlands. He is considered to be the best known Body Language specialist of the Netherlands.
Frank is the creator of a Dutch website about body language: A partly translated version of which can be found at: