How to Make Your Body Language Work for You During an Interview

Below is a recent interview with US News in which Patti shares her interview tips from her recent book, SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma.

How to make your body language work for you during an interview

By: Miriam Salpeter

You’ve been practicing what to say at an interview, but have you considered what signals your body language is sending? (The Merrabian research I think you wanted to quote here Is not actually valid. Perhaps better to say it has 4.3 times the impact than words alone) Research suggests ____ percent of communication isn’t transmitted via our words, but is broadcast through our actions and attitude.

Patti Wood, author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, suggests the following tips from the book to help you wow your interviewer:

Palm-to-Palm Contact Is Key - Wood explains, “My research is the US and Canada suggests that palm contact is more important than how firm your grip is…If someone shakes hands with you and gives you just her fingers and not her full palm, at a subconscious level you may think, ‘What is she hiding? What is she keeping from me?” Evaluate the all-important handshake and worry less about if you have a firm enough grip and more about extending your entire hand and palm when you greet someone.

How to Sit - Don’t make yourself smaller in stature. Appear brave by keeping your body open. Wood notes, “Keep your arms open and away from your body, legs uncrossed, and shoulders   back.”  Take note of how you sit. Wood explains, Research says that women perch, sitting on the edge of the seat, curved  forward, while men tend to slouch, relying more on the backrest. Perching the entire time makes you look less powerful. Vary your position, use lots of space, and occasionally place your arms on the armrest to look confident.” When you position yourself effectively, you’ll appear confident, vital, and energetic.

Show Your Hands - Showing your hands helps you appear open, honest and approachable, so Wood notes,Don’t hide your hands under the table or in your pockets or tuck them away. Keep your hands open and in view on the table or the arms of the chair.” She explains, “Gesture normally. Your hands show your emotional state. When you close your hand, the amount of tightness and the way the fingers curve show how you feel about the topic. In an interview, you want to be open, not closed.”
Match and Mirror - Research shows that people hire people who are like them. Use body language to help convince your interviewer that you are a good fit. Wood suggests youmatch and mirror your interviewer enough briefly at the very beginning of the interview to make him comfortable with you. For example, lean slightly in the direction he is leaning, for instance, or match his smile with one of your own.”

Get Grounded - When the going get tough, the tough get grounded. Wood explains,When people are nervous, they tend to either move a lot or freeze. To overcome the toughest interview questions, put both feet firmly on the ground. This makes it easier to use both hemispheres of the brain— the rational and the creative-emotional. Or, if you feel yourself freeze, move your feet in some way.”

End Well - While first impressions are important, people will also remember the last thing you do or say. Wood suggests, “The last impression, the recencey effect is critical and can improve a bad first impression” As the conversation winds down, make sure your belongings are on the left side of your body so you can easily shake with your right hand. You may shake hands more than once — when you get up, at the door, and after talking for a bit longer while parting.” Even if the interview didn’t go as well as you might have liked, keep focused and poised until the end and you may be able to improve the impression you leave.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at