October 12th, 2020

Candidate’s Body Language During an Interview: Universal and Unique communication

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In everyday conversations, we use our body language to interact with others. Nonverbal communication can sometimes say a lot more than actual words, especially during important moments such as job interviews.

Body language is an interesting subject that we’ll never get bored of. Mostly it can express our true emotions, but sometimes intentions also. Knowing how to read it is a nice skill to have, particularly if you are a recruiter who gets in contact with a lot of people.

The Unspoken Words

We are all familiar with the moments where the person we are speaking to doesn’t make a single sound. Yet, it is more than clear what the message is, in terms of what we should do or what they expect.

That’s the power of nonverbal communication. It can be a gesture, posture or even a facial expression. They could hide pieces of valuable information that slip right next to us. Let’s mention a few and see what you could learn from them during an interview.

  • Sitting on the chair’s edge and leaning towards you

    This is a good sign. They are present both physically and mentally, ready to absorb every piece of information you lay out there. As you can imagine, it probably means that the candidate is really interested in the position and wants to make a good impression.

  • Leaning back with arms crossed

    “Let’s just get this over with” type. For some reason, this person isn’t too excited about being there and having a conversation with you. You shouldn’t take it personally since it could be anything. In most cases, it implies that the candidate is not motivated for the position or simply wants to accept whatever job offer they get.

  • Eyes wandering all over the place

    This is a two-way street, so you should consider other factors, too. For example, creative people usually can’t be in one place for a long time and have the urge to constantly look around their environment.

On the other hand, it’s in our nature to let our minds wander when we get bored or want to be somewhere else. Remember those moments in school when suddenly you realize you have no idea what the professor said in the previous ten minutes? Exactly!


What you will do in this situation can depend on job requirements for instance. If you are hiring a graphic designer, then there’s a high chance you’ve encountered the first type. In scenarios where you are not sure which side of the street the candidate’s on, be patient. Soon enough they’ll give you some other sign which will help you make the decision.
  • Straight as an arrow, with feet firm on the ground and arms wide open

    They are either as cold as ice or took a few shots of strong beverage to keep their nerves steady. Jokes aside, this kind of posture usually shows confidence and a positive attitude.

  • Eye contact

    We are mostly comfortable with things as long as they are balanced, right? Everyone appreciates maintained eye contact unless it stretches out for too long.

It’s a thin line between looking self-assured and straight-up weird. In other words, it’s okay if the candidates look somewhere else occasionally. They might be trying to remember something or fantasize about the [refreshment on your table.](https://www.igloohr.com/blog/basic-tips-for-conducting-interviews) 

There’s a lot to add here, as at the end of the day we are all individuals and have some less common traits that we show depending on the occasion. One thing’s for sure - sometimes a person’s behavior is only related to a specific situation. If the candidate’s nervous they might do some of the things mentioned above, even though it’s not how they would normally act.

After a few encounters with people who act similarly and present themselves in a way you do or don’t like, it will become easier to differentiate exceptions from rules. With each interview your skill to read the candidate’s body language will improve, and at some point you’ll be an expert.

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