Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

20 Body Language Blunders You Mustn’t Make During Interviews

By Charles Trivett | May 19, 2015 | Candidate Tips

This week, we wrote a fairly controversial blog post for interviewers, describing the 20 Body Language Warning Signs to Watch Out For When Interviewing Candidates.

To be honest, it made us feel a little bit guilty – condemning candidates to further interview scrutiny!

So as a follow-up, I’ve written this blog just for you, to give you a heads-up about the 5 most revealing body indicators and their top 20 body language blunders that could sabotage your interview.

Why is body language so important?

55% of human communication is non-verbal.

That means that no matter how fabulously you answer questions or how suitable your background is for the job role, your body language could sabotage your interview.

Have you ever taken a dislike to someone without knowing why?

Human beings are basically hard-wired to understand non-verbal communication, just like animals.

If you do get that negative ‘hunch’ about someone and aren’t sure why, then chances are it’ll be down to a body language blunder, like the ones below.

Do you commit any of these self-sabotaging faux pas?

1. The Eyes.

Your eyes are pretty tricky instruments to fathom, but there are certain actions that will naturally put off interviewers (or anyone else for that matter).


  • Glance to the right when asked to recall. It’s considered a sign of deception!
  • Excessively blink. This implies that you’re really feeling the pressure.
  • Stare. Staring into an interviewee’s eyes, without looking away or blinking is just creepy and it will seem like you’re trying too hard to act naturally.
  • Avert eyes. If you won’t look an interviewer in the eye at all you’ll either look too nervous and shy or like you’ve got something to hide. It’s also almost impossible to bond with someone if you don’t make eye contact with them.
  • Squint. You may just be considering an answer to the interviewer’s question, but a squint can display emotions such as distrust, frustration and even anger.


  • Glance to the left when asked to recall. This is considered a sign of honesty.
  • Keep a comfortable level of eye contact. A good trick is to keep eye contact for one second longer, when you start to feel uncomfortable and then glance away.

(Whether you look up or down doesn’t really matter.)

Recruiter Pro Tip

People often interpret the following behaviours as signs of deception, so if possible, try to avoid them!

  • Sudden changes in voice.
  • Fidgeting too much, or too little.
  • Covering up of vulnerable body parts.
  • Giving up too much information.
  • Speaking in the third person.

For more insight, check out our previous blog: 8 Ways to Spot a Liar in an Interview.

2. The Mouth.

You can acquire a lot more information from someone’s mouth than you might imagine and unfortunately it’s particularly good at rooting out the nervous interviewees.

A simple, “cut and pasted” smile is a sign of forced agreement and interviewers will be used to seeing it.

But even these fake little smiles can imply other things about a person.


  • Put on a thin-lipped smile, with no teeth, even if you’re self-conscious! This could translate as a sign of anger or rejection.
  • Mouth shrug. It can be seen as a sign of denial.
  • Jut your bottom lip. It’s the adult equivalent of crying.
  • Smile lopsidedly. It could come across sarcastic or cynical.
  • Move your mouth too much when talking. It implies that you’re overly domineering.


  • Genuinely Laugh. Easier said than done in an intense interview, but try to relax and let the conversation flow. When genuine laughter arises, you’ll come across confident and at ease.
  • The Duchenne Smile. A ‘real smile’ will draw in the eye muscles and, like genuine laughter will imply confidence and endear you to the interviewer.

3. The Lungs.

The way we breathe in a situation can reveal a lot about our mentality and emotions.

Have you ever concentrated so hard on your breathing pattern that as a result you found it difficult to breathe?

You really don’t want that to happen in your interview, so although there are a couple of things below that you should try to watch out for, don’t think too much into it!


  • Take a sudden sharp intake breath. This will really betray your nerves about a certain question or topic that has arisen.
  • Short, shallow breaths imply sheer panic!


  • Calm yourself and take a deep breath before your interview. The calmer you are, the calmer your breathing will be!
  • Mirror your interviewer. If you’re feeling particularly confident (and a bit cheeky) you could attempt to mirror your interviewer’s breathing pattern, creating a stronger bond and affinity between the two of you.

4. The Hands.

Do you ever find yourself fidgeting during interviews?

If so – STOP!

The hands are one of the most obvious body language blunders that could give away just how nervous, anxious or even frustrated you are.


  • Tap your fingers. Despite being fairly rude, tapping one’s fingers betrays impatience, boredom and disinterest in the job.
  • Point (especially without context). This comes across as aggressive and domineering.
  • Clench your fists. No matter how frustrated you get, try not to give the game away by clenching your fists. You’ll look angry and intimidating.
  • Hide your hands. This often occurs subconsciously when someone is lying. If the interviewer is a body language expert…they might think you have something to hide!


  • Steeple. Pressing the fingertips together in a steeple position is generally considered as a sign of confidence and deep thought.
  • Make open hand gestures. Open hand gestures reveal openness, positivity and honesty.
  • Flip your hands. Another often subconscious hand gesture, flipping your hands could reflect deliberation and thorough consideration of a question.

Recruiter Pro Tip

We always advise candidates to practise their handshake, to make sure it’s giving the right impression – it’s just interview etiquette!

A weak and limp-wristed handshake reflects nervousness, whereas a strong and firm handshake implies confidence and ease.

However, an overbearing handshake could indicate a domineering persona and someone who possibly won’t play well with others.

5. The Body as a Whole.

Finally, your posture, stance and movements will reveal an awful lot about the type of person you are and the way you’re feeling during an interview.


  • Slouch. Slouching is rude and shows disinterest, arrogance and even boredom!
  • Lean forward, hands on thighs. This can be a sign of submission, reflecting nervousness and a desire to escape from the room (certainly not uncommon in interviews.)
  • Hold your opposite arm. No matter how fleeting this gesture is, it is a clear sign that you are comforting yourself. Especially watch out for this if you’re not sure an interview is going well.
  • Cross your arms. This is a huge no-no and implies that an interviewee could be confrontational, arrogant or even bored by the interview.


  • Sit up straight in a neutral position showing interest, confidence and great interview etiquette.
  • Feel free to cross your legs if that’s what’s most comfortable for you.


Not every interviewer is going to be a body language expert, scrutinising every micro-expression you make, but the indicators we’ve outlined above are some of the most off-putting and obvious behaviours that they will pick up on (subconsciously or not).

In truth, if you can impress your interviewer with great answers and you’re as genuine and open as possible, your interviewer will sense it.

- Charles Trivett
Charles - blog author

Charles Trivett

Charles heads up Coburg Banks’ IT Division, and has worked in recruitment for nearly 20 years.  His knowledge of how to optimise and get the most from a recruitment campaign is second to none, and he now works with a select handful of clients in maximising their recruitment ROI.

> More blog posts by Charles Trivett

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