It’s no secret that body language can make or break a job interview, but if you’re nervous, it’s easy to take advice like “sit up straight!” too far. So, here’s what you need to know:
You do want to sit up straight. But not so straight it looks like you’re a soldier standing at attention, because that makes you look frightened and uncomfortable. But don’t relax by leaning back in your chair, either, because that comes across as lazy, and uninterested. Sharon Sayler is the author of What Your Body Says. And she says that the posture most likely to get you hired is sitting on the edge of your chair with your back at a 90-degree angle.
Another job interview body language tip: They say not to fidget, but charisma coach Cynthia Burnham says that a lot of people try to prevent fidgeting by crossing their arms or holding their hands behind their back - but both of those are defensive postures. Your best bet: Keep your arms by your sides, and occasionally gesture with your hands. You may also want to take notes to keep your hands busy.
Let’s end with a body language tip that a lot of people overdo: Making eye contact and nodding your head to show you’re paying attention. Karen Friedman wrote the book Business Communication Strategies, and she says you should hold eye contact during the handshake, but then break it, and reestablish it later. Otherwise, it comes off as staring. And nodding is a good way to show you’re paying attention, but if you go overboard, you risk looking like a bobble-head doll.