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Your practical guide

Body language

The first contact between two people is important and the first impression is often decisive.

During your job interview, your interviewer - who, don’t forget, is often a recruitment professional - will get a certain idea of your personality from the very first minutes.

Your general appearance, your clothes, the expression on your face, your handshake, your punctuality, your attitude and your way of moving are all integral parts of yourself and indicate your way of communicating. All these aspects of yourself that you show are seen and noted by your interviewer.

This non-verbal language is therefore sufficiently important that you should take the trouble to learn about it.

A verbal exchange is easy to control because it is done in a conscious manner. On the other hand, the process of non-verbal communication is less obvious. However, with a little thought and a little preparation, the different aspects of this non-verbal expression itself can after all be used in a conscious manner.

Many behavioural studies tell us that 55% of what we say is transmitted through our body language – therefore in an unconscious or uncontrolled manner. The voice accounts for 38% while our words only make up 7%.

Apply this theory to the job interview and you will realise that it is not only what you say that is important but that the way in which you expressed it and the general impression you produced will determine your chances of success.

This obviously does not mean to say that all your preparatory effort should be concentrated on your non-verbal behaviour and that, having put everything into this aspect of things, you can allow yourself to say anything, although it certainly merits all your attention.

Once more, never forget that you probably will meet a recruitment professional who will know how to read the situation in order to concentrate on the essential things: your skills, your personality and your ability to meet the needs of their company.


When you are nervous your arms, your legs and your hands are a hindrance. You don’t know what to do with them or how to hold yourself in order to appear relaxed.

Here are a few tips:

Bear in mind the following facts:

  • Arms, legs, feet, hands...
    • Don’t fold your arms. Even though this gesture gives a feeling of reassurance, it creates a barrier between you and others and because of this, it sends a message of defensiveness and of being closed in on oneself that is never appreciated.
    • Let your arms rest gently on your knees, on the armrests of your chair or on the table.
      If you don’t mange to feel comfortable, pick up something that could seem useful to you in your interview: a notepad and pen, a business card, or quite simply your visitor’s badge.
      That will offer you the comfort of a bit of support and prevent you from being distracted for too long by the thought of your awkward limbs.
    • You can also use your hands to make gestures that emphasise certain aspects of what you say or make them clearer. A certain amount of gesturing indicates that you feel perfectly at ease and shows your enthusiasm, but avoid any theatricality or any exaggerated gesticulation.
    • Don’t ignore the position of your legs and your feet.
      Even if your interviewer cannot see them because you are sitting down, all movements of your legs and your feet will be noticeable, and a nervous jiggling of your feet all the more so, as it will set off an awkward trembling throughout your whole body.
    • Keep yourself calm, control yourself and wait until you have left to stretch your legs.

  • The handshake
    • Offering the hand palm downwards indicates a dominant temperament.
    • Offering a hand on the end of a stiff arm indicates that you want to keep the other person at a distance and outside your personal space.
    • Offering the hand with the arm outstretched and the palm downwards places the person receiving it in a subordinate position.
    • On the other hand, pulling the other person towards you can show too much intimacy that is not suitable at a job interview.
    • You must remember that most people prefer a vigorous and open handshake.
    • A limp handshake or one which barely touches the ends of the other person’s fingers are seen as unpleasant.
    • A limp hand can indicate a certain weakness of character while too quick a touch can indicate a certain timidity.


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