Can Your Body Language Win You The Job?

Can Your Body Language Win You The Job?

I made several body language recommendations for this article on interviewing for a job. My comments are below highlighted in yellow.

Can Your Body Language Win You The Job?
Elizabeth Garone
About the author
Elizabeth is a freelance writer in California and a former Career Q&A columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Samuel Amegavisa is getting nervous. In his last year of human biology studies at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, it’s time to start thinking about job interviews.
Everyone knows it’s important to dress smartly for an interview. Less obvious is the importance of how you carry yourself.
“My situation is quite simple. I have never been interviewed before,” wrote 23-year-old Amegavisa in an email to BBC Capital. He had a basic question — one most of us probably don’t think much about. “Is there any recommended sitting position before and during your interview?”
While everyone knows it’s important to dress smartly for an interview, less obvious — and less known— is the importance of how you carry yourself. What hidden cues do you give when you walk through the doorway, shake hands or sit?
Three body language experts share their insights on what moves to make, and avoid, in an interview.
Happy medium
The first contact between an interviewer and interviewee is almost always a handshake. First impressions often determine how the rest of the interview goes, so this can be one of the most important elements of getting it right, according to David Alssema, a body language expert and training facilitator with Paramount Training & Development in Perth, Australia.
“Rapport is built by similarities,” so shake hands the way the interviewer does, recommended Alssema in an email. “Matching the strength or greeting shows you want to be an equal. Overpowering a handshake can signal a dominant attitude towards the meeting.”
Zones of space
No matter our culture, we all have and are at least subconsciously aware of four zones of space around us. They are (from farthest to closest): Public, social, personal and intimate. It’s important to be keenly attuned to these during an interview, according to Nick Morgan, Boston-based speech coach and author of Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact. “The only significant things that happen between people happen in personal and intimate space,” he wrote in an email. “Since intimate space is off limits [in an interview], you want to get into the personal space of the interviewer,” if you want the person to be inclined to decide in your favour.
Make your move
While the handshake brings us into the personal space that we want — it’s why we do it, according to Morgan — typical seating arrangements in an interview tend to move us away. “That makes it easier for the interviewer to pass on us — but harder for us to make an impression,” he said. “So look for ways to tactfully move into the personal space of the interviewer.” For example, you might move your chair slightly or sit on the same side of a round table.
Once you’re seated, consider other ways to close the distance. Lean forward, for example, just not too much. “Try to do this tactfully and subtly, not rapidly or awkwardly,” cautioned Morgan. It’s worth the effort.
“We increase trust and connection with people when we close the distance between us, even by small amounts,” he said.
Please click the arrow above to see how to improve confidence with certain postures.
Open for business
It’s very important to keep your body language “open,” according to Morgan. You’re likely to be nervous and you might find yourself unconsciously clutching your hands in front of you or folding your arms. “These feel safe and comfortable, but also distancing and disconnecting for the other party,” he said. In addition, “[folding your arms] shows that you are disinterested, and it also prevents you from leaning,” said Alssema.
The eyes have it
“Eye contact is important, and any less or any more than a reasonable amount may indicate other attitudes,” said Alssema. What’s just right? That might be hard to tell in some situations, but Alssema suggests mirroring the amount of time the interviewer gives you eye contact. If there is a panel of interviewers, it’s important to provide the right mix of time for each person. “Respond to each person individually with eye contact when answering questions,” he said. “Glancing around is a signal for boredom, so avoid it if possible.”
People often make the mistake of equating good eye contact with never looking away — but this would be a mistake, too, according to Atlanta, Georgia-based Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.
“It is normal to look away from time to time as you speak, because you’re accessing information in your brain,” she wrote in an email. Just don’t let yourself drift off when the interviewer is speaking. “After giving an answer, remember to make eye contact and listen to the interviewer. Eye contact sends the message that you are serious and engaged,” Wood said.
Don’t forget to breathe — deeply
The moment people get nervous, the more quickly they start breathing. That can wreak havoc in an interview.
When you take quick shallow breaths, you reduce your ability to think clearly,” said Wood. “This may keep you from answering questions quickly and succinctly.”
Instead, try to breathe deeply from low down in your belly. “[It is] one key to feeling clearheaded, energised, and confident,” she said. “Practice breathing more slowly, using your diaphragm, belly, rib cage and lower back in the process.” Of course, this isn’t something you’ll want to do in your actual interview. “But try it whenever you get anxious and certainly before your interview,” she said. 
Career Coach is a twice-monthly column on BBC Capital in which we consider the career turning points and questions many professionals face. We welcome questions from readers at
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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

Body Language and Deception Read of Brian Williams Iraq War Story on David Letterman.

Body Language and Deception Read of Brian Williams’
Iraq War Story on David Letterman
Brian Williams Makes Mistakes in His Apology Statement
By Body Language Expert Patti Wood

What are the “tells” that Brian Williams’ lies in part of his Iraq War Story. I detail how to read his deception then I tell you what he did wrong in his apology statement.  There is also a link below to the article I did for the IBT Pulse on the story. If you want to look at the video, as I analyze it, here is the link to the video of Brian Williams’ Iraq War Story on David Letterman.

First Williams says, “Two of the helicopters were hit including the one I was in.” This is very odd phrasing. He is stating what happened to his chopper last. If you were describing say, a car accident you would not say, “Two of the cars were in the accident, including the car I was in.” Typically, if you experienced a terrifying accident you would recall it in your limbic brain and the focus in the first part of the sentence would be on you. You would lead with what happened to you. If you are lying you are more likely to lead with the truth and hide the lie at the end of the sentence. I will say that this is a war story and sometimes war storytellers remove themselves from the first place in the story and Brian is a journalist and he is trained to remove himself from the story. Yet having stated those exceptions to sharing an incident like this, it is still really odd.
Now notice his body language as he speaks, “Two of the helicopters were hit including the one I was in.” His body stays very still, his outside hand is in a guarded wall position on the outside of his leg, his left leg is folded over his right away from Letterman and his left arm is out around the back of the chair and his hand is loosely gripping the chair arm.  He is guarding himself a bit. Perhaps not unusual if you are going to tell a story of a scare event, but this guarding is juxtaposed with him having a very expanded upper chest. That is a braggart’s position. So he is showing a mixture of the braggart and guarded positions.
His body stays very still. With the caveats stated above, I know that some “warriors” want to remain distant and or cavalier about their story.  It still seems odd that he is describing being hit without his body coming downwards or going backwards as he remembers the sensation of being hit. His head does come down on the word “hit” but the head is under more conscious control and that means he could purposefully, as a broadcaster, easily emphasize that word with his head.
What I would have liked to have seen is more subconscious body movement. I know time has passed since the event, and he was not injured, but typically I should see a hint of that movement as he “recalls” the incident. Instead he is planted. This does not mean he is lying. It is merely curious and interesting.
The vocal emphasis on hit actually matches Brian Williams’ natural vocal emphasis as he tells a news story. He typically, in his baseline of normal news storytelling, hits the verb or power word.

Body Language and Deception Analysis of Brain Williams’
Apology Statement Letterman

Williams certainly wanted to get through the apology as quickly as possible. Perhaps, because this time, he was hit by real “ground fire’ criticism from the public and the media. Time is a nonverbal communicator. Rushing through the apology shows his desire to distance himself from his guilt and get on with things rather than sincere remorse.
"I said I was in the aircraft that was hit… I was instead…” Newscasters often use the words, “rather” and “instead” when they have made a word or phrasing blunder in their news story. This was more than a misspoken word. This was a lie. If an actor had lied we would think, bad boy. This is however a news correspondent whose words we rely on for the truth of what is going on in the world.
He then goes on to give the “excuse” that the story was, “a bungled attempt to thank one special veteran…” I watched him tell the story on Letterman 6 times, and it was not a story of thanks to one special veteran. A content analysis of it instead categorizes it as a comic, “I had a bad night in Vegas” variety story. He does mention that one soldier was hit in the ear when he told the story on Letterman and he touches his ear after he says that showing he distances himself from that soldier and his injury and did not feel the pain that soldier had in that moment. Yes, he is a journalist and he is trained to distance himself, but if someone was being projected as the hero of the story it was him. Watch as he tells it how Letterman leans forward and goes, “Wow.”
As he says, “I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology” watch how his head goes down and his eyes close and his voice goes unusually soft and faint as he says the word, “apology.” I would like to say this is normal shamed behavior. But, I will say, it shows embarrassment. I would have liked to have seen him look in the camera and say, “I messed up and I am truly sorry.” He should have said, “What I did was to claim pain and hardship that was not mine to claim.”  Instead his pride overrides what should have been true humbleness. Brian Williams rushes through the content with body language that does not show he is truly contrite.

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