Interviewing 201: Reading Your Interviewer’s Body Language & What It Really Means

When was the last time you caught yourself unconsciously biting your nails or yawning at the wrong time? While these habits might not be so bad in the comfort of your home, during a face-to-face interview for instance, these small quirks could potentially cost you the job. For some interviewers, they know within the first five minutes of meeting a candidate whether or not they would hire them, so it’s important to always make a good first impression.

However, interviews are intended to be a two-way street. As a result, you should not only be mindful of your nonverbal cues, but also pay close attention to your interviewer—particularly their body language to gauge how the interview is going. Picking up on slight changes in their body language may help you to get the interview back on track if you’re losing focus or allow you to better assess if that role will truly be the best fit for you. The next time you are unsure what your interviewer might be thinking about, keep a look out for the following signs:

Bad posture

While you are advised to be cognizant of your body language during interviews, your interviewer’s posture can reveal a lot about what they’re thinking about the interview at hand. For example, if your interviewer often slouches, leans back into their seat, or sits with their arms crossed, these can be subtle indications that they are not particularly impressed (or satisfied) with your responses. However, don’t let this discourage you! Exuding more confidence through a straight posture or slightly leaning forward in your responses will reaffirm to your interviewer that you’re very much interested in the position.

Poor communication

How often do you find yourself in conversations where the other person pays more attention to everything else around them but you? As an interviewee, you’re expected to know basic information about your prospective employer as well as maintain good eye contact. However, you should pay close attention to how prepared and engaged your interviewer is throughout the meeting. For example, if your interviewer starts the meeting by “reviewing” your resume line by line, spends a lot of time glancing at their watch/clock, or generally maintains poor eye contact when they address you, these could all be red flags to note. While there’s always a potential to run into a bad interviewer, some of these signals can give you a feel for your prospective manager’s communication style as well as their overall level of professionalism. To prevent this from affecting your performance moving forward, infuse excitement in your responses and ask insightful questions that will press your interviewer to engage with you.

Awkward facial expressions

Whenever we are in conversation, we have all been guilty of unconsciously revealing our real thoughts and emotions through our facial expressions. For example, when you’re excited or something is funny you smile, and if you’re confused you might lift your brows. That’s why you should pay special attention to subtle changes in your interviewer’s facial expressions as you give responses. If their reaction and expressions don’t correspond with your statements, this could mean that they aren’t being completely upfront with you and might not believe what you’re saying. For instance, raised eyebrows for something intended to be funny, smirking for something intended to serious, or repeatedly taking deep breaths are some of the cues you should look out for.

The overall speed of the interview

If you’ve ever been cut off when you speak, you know how frustrating it can be when trying to have a meaningful conversation with someone who won’t give you a chance to finish your point. If you are ever caught with an interviewer who repeatedly cuts off your responses, this could be a hint that they’re trying to make the interview move faster. While this isn’t exactly a non-verbal cue, controlling the overall speed of the interview is another way that an interviewer can indirectly reveal they’ve already made up their mind about moving forward with you.