Ideally, your posture in an interview should convey that you are confident and assertive yet also easygoing and a team player. You want to appear trustworthy, capable and collaborative. You don’t want to be a nervous wreck, but you also want to show you’re taking the interview seriously– not idly playing with hair or staring off into space. Finding the right interview posture is a delicate dance but one that’s essential to master.

5 ways to improve body language during an interview

The following five tips are your “cheat sheet” for how to sit during an interview:

  1. Choose the best position: The first challenge you’ll face is choosing where to sit in an interview. Studies have shown that eye contact builds trust and attraction, so position yourself in the seat that best facilitates easy eye contact: directly across from your interviewer, if possible.
  2. Sit up straight: Once you sit down, maintaining good posture in an interview is crucial. Make sure that you sit up straight, no slouching or hunching. Not only does sitting up straight convey confidence, studies have shown that it will make you feel more like a leader.
  3. Lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact: Lean forward slightly to convey that you are listening and engaged in the conversation. Maintain natural eye contact throughout the conversation. It’s a trust-building behavior that’s hard-wired into the human brain, and doing so will make your statements more memorable.
  4. Position your hands and arms mindfully: Avoid crossing your arms. Doing so signals discomfort and defensiveness. Instead, rest your hands on your lap or the table in front of you. This position signals openness and willingness to collaborate and frees your hands to accent key points with natural gestures.
  5. Avoid fidgeting: Tapping your fingers on the table, shaking your foot, playing with your hair and other forms of fidgeting signal untrustworthiness. Worse, when you fidget, the interviewer is not as likely to remember you as the candidate who nailed every question. Make a conscious effort to keep unnecessary movements to a minimum. That said, using your hands to emphasize or illustrate key points while speaking is a positive. Emphatic hand gestures increase the perceived value of your words. Just make sure that your movements are considered and purposeful, and not just a way to dissipate nervous energy.

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There’s no single best way to sit in an interview that works for every situation. Some interviews are more formal and others more casual. You should always assess the situation after you walk in the door and mirror the behavior of your interviewers, as appropriate.

If you struggle to maintain good posture or eye contact, practice in front of a mirror so these interview posture tips become second nature– and you’re focused on the interviewer’s questions rather than worrying about how you are sitting.

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