These 13 Nonverbal Cues Could Hurt You During A Job Interview

They say actions speak louder than words, and this is especially true when it comes to an interview with a potential employer. Certain nonverbal cues can either impress an employer or push them onto the next candidate. While job seekers should prepare answers to common interview questions, they must also remember what they don’t say can be just as important as what they do say.

Below, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council share some nonverbal cues to avoid in an interview and why each can be detrimental to your success.

1. Poor Eye Contact
Maintaining good eye contact during an interview or any communicative setting helps to express one’s self-validity and assurance. Poor eye contact can bring about mischief or doubt to an interviewer, also forcing the listener to further process what is being said. The interviewer will question the information being shared and may completely disengage from the conversation and conclude the interview. – Jane Gios, HR Solutions Network

2. Being Unenthusiastic
Though one would think that being enthusiastic in an interview is a no-brainer, I have witnessed the opposite. In my experience, the candidate too often concentrates on appearing knowledgeable but misses the vital aspects of enthusiasm. It is almost equally a problem with employers. All the knowledge and expertise in the world cannot replace the enthusiasm needed to overcome daily obstacles. – Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group

3. Not Mirroring Enough
Focusing on mirroring and matching your interviewer is often a good habit to build when trying to engage and build rapport. Remember, you are not mimicking motions, but gliding with those who you speak to through body language. In short, leaning in with a delay or making an arm movement that mirrors another gently helps you create synergy. It is a bit like dancing. Go with the flow. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

4. Excessive Nodding
Head nodding is a sign of affirmation, which isn’t a bad thing, as long as you agree with what’s being said. Too much head nodding can make you look overeager and, even worse, like you’re not paying attention to what’s being said. Keeping your head still will give you a more authoritative look. – Alex Rufatto Perry, Practically Speaking, LLC

5. Giving A Crushing Handshake
There was a time when people were told to give firm handshakes as a sign of confidence in an interview. However, don’t take it too far by crushing the interviewer’s hand—that won’t help your case either. Be somewhere between gentle and firm, lean forward slightly without crouching during the interview and don’t jiggle your foot or leg like a garden hose gone wild. – Eric Beaudan, Odgers Berndtson

6. Fidgety Feet
Being the farthest from the face, most people forget that the feet can easily give away our emotions, so keep them in check. Remember not to bounce your knees or tap your feet; it implies nervousness or impatience. Also, don’t wrap your ankles around the legs of the chair (really, people do this.) It suggests insecurity. Find a comfortable, easy position and hold it loosely. – Anita Hodges, Anita Speaks 2U

7. Interrupting The Interviewer
Sometimes in interviews, candidates become so affixed on selling themselves, they get anxious for air-time. This can cause them to prepare for their next remark and, therefore, interrupt the interviewer instead of actively listening to them. When we interrupt and don’t actively listen, we send out a nonverbal cue that says, “What you have to say is not as important as what I have to say!” – Susan K. Wehrley, BIZremedies

8. Exuding Nervous Energy
A job seeker’s nervous energy is often observed by one’s nonverbal cues, such as dry mouth, too little or too much eye contact, fidgeting or excessive shaking and/or fluctuations in their voice. To reduce or eliminate any nervous energy in an interview, job seekers should practice. Practice being interviewed, practice mindfulness, practice key breathing exercises and practice creating value. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting

9. Looking At Your Watch
As tempting as it is, do not look at your watch. It is a definite signal that the interview is over and it’s time to leave. All of us fidget when we’re nervous or bored. Legs crossing and uncrossing, toes tapping, fiddling with your nails and fingers can indicate that you’re not really listening and simply giving yourself something to do until the other person finishes talking. – Silke Glaab, SilkCelia

10. Ignoring Your Facial Expressions
Our faces tell more of the story than any words we use. Being mindful of how we express emotion when speaking is important when interviewing. As a career coach, the two things I appreciate more than talent are honesty and enthusiasm! We can train for the role, but we can’t “bring the fire” for you! Show the person across from you that you are present and ready to prove yourself in the role. – Miranda VonFricken, Miranda VonFricken Mastermind Coaching

11. Bad Posture
First impressions are sticky and posture is something to be acutely aware of during an interview. The simple act of leaning in shows engagement and a willingness to learn, while leaning back can relay a sense of arrogance or disinterest. Good posture coupled with solid eye contact is your best bet for communicating confidence and aptitude. – Erin Miller, Erin Miller INC

12. Talking With Your Hands
While hand gestures and signals may be common with today’s expressive generation, they may be misunderstood or cause distraction during an interview. A flip of our thumb or a pretend phone signal works great with friends but may derail your point during a formal interview. Focus on answering the question authentically and maintain eye contact. Save your hand signals for happy hour! – Jenny Whitener, Bridge Innovate

13. Walking Without Dignity Or Confidence
Over the years, I have observed one of my clients conduct several interviews. One thing seems to be consistent: Those interviewees who walked with a sense of dignity caught my attention. There’s an association between how we walk and our confidence level. It’s important to avoid showing a lack of confidence because it could create an environment of speculations. – J. Ibeh Agbanyim, Focused Vision Consulting, LLC

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council, 16 Oct 2019

By Laura Garza
Laura Garza Career Coach Laura Garza