In a job interview, nonverbal communication such as gestures and posture can affect the hiring manager’s first impression of you. The way one takes a seat can either elevate or remove the perceived level of confidence and professionalism in a job interview, making it a vital step during the hiring process.
During a job interview, your sitting posture should ideally project confidence and present yourself as trustworthy, capable, and collaborative. Striking the right balance is crucial—you don't want to come across as overly nervous, yet you need to show that you take the interview seriously, avoiding distractions like twirling your hair or staring into space.
Why Seating Posture is Important in an Interview
Body language can be a powerful tool to influence your interviewer, and this extends to having the right sitting posture during a job interview. Nonverbal cues can reveal how confident, motivated and nervous a candidate is. As such, not knowing the right ‘seating etiquette’ including when and how to do so can signal nervousness or discomfort.
To show enthusiasm during an interview, it's crucial to be mindful of overly casual postures to avoid defensive signals, such as placing an ankle over one knee. Adapting your sitting posture by mirroring the behaviour of your interviewer can also help you look like a better candidate for the job.
How to Sit During a Job Interview
Knowing how to sit confidently during an interview can get you a follow-up meeting or job offer.
Showing confidence and self-assurance through your body language can significantly boost your chances to get the job. Slouching, for example, could be interpreted as a sign of dissatisfaction, apathy, or carelessness. In this article, learn these useful tips to improve your seating etiquette during a job interview and get hired.
Choose the Right Seat
The first challenge you’ll face is choosing the right seat for your job interview. If in person, wait for the interviewer to invite you to seat yourself. Studies have shown that eye contact builds trust and connection, so position yourself in the seat that best facilitates natural eye contact –ideally, directly across from your interviewer.
Sit confidently and slide all the way back into the chair, rather than perching on the edge, as it can help you sit up straight throughout the interview. Ensure you sit upright, avoiding slouching or hunching, keeping your shoulders back and chest high. Tilt your head slightly to one side at times to express a friendly and engaged behaviour while the interviewer is speaking.
Make Eye Contact While Leaning Forward
During a job interview, gently lean forward to signal active listening and engagement in the conversation. Maintain natural eye contact throughout; it's a trust-building behaviour ingrained in the human brain, which will make you more memorable compared to other candidates.
Resist the temptation to lean back or to one side while sitting, as this can transmit boredom. Similarly, avoid looking down unless necessary (while taking notes), maintaining eye contact to show friendliness and interest.
Nod and Smile
When the hiring manager is speaking, nod your head periodically. This nonverbal gesture shows that you’re paying attention and are genuinely interested in their words. Remember to smile at appropriate moments during the conversation. This can help to create a positive atmosphere and make the interviewer feel more comfortable. Besides, it can also help to show your enthusiasm and interest in the conversation. Smiling can also make you look more confident and relaxed, creating a more friendly atmosphere, which can help to build trust.
Be Aware of your Hands and Arm Positions
Refrain from crossing your arms, as it can transmit discomfort and defensiveness. Instead, place your hands loosely on your lap or place them on the armrests or table in front of you in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable. By controlling your hands, you can emphasise key points through natural gestures in moderation.
Try to Avoid Fidgeting
Engaging in habits like tapping your fingers, shaking your foot, or playing with your hair can indicate anxiety. Excessive fidgeting may make it less likely for the interviewer to remember you compared to a candidate who confidently answered every question. Strive to minimise unnecessary movements consciously to maintain a professional persona in front of your hiring manager.
Keep Both Feet on the Ground to Avoid Distractions
Avoid crossing your legs at the knees, as it may come across as defensive, or placing an ankle over one knee, which can appear overly casual. Keep both feet grounded or cross your ankles to look confident and professional. Avoid moving your legs frequently which can be distracting and may indicate anxiety.
Respect Each Other's Personal Space
In most in-person interviews, chairs are arranged around a table or in predetermined positions within a room. However, if there isn't a table between yourself and the hiring manager, be sure there is a distance of at least 3 feet to foster a comfortable environment. Pay attention to cues such as the interviewer leaning away or crossing their arms, as these may indicate that you are getting too close.
Prepare For Your Next Executive Role
There isn't a universal ideal sitting posture for every interview scenario. Some interviews lean towards formality, while others may be more casual. The more you practise and correct your sitting posture, the more it will become second nature to you, allowing you to focus on the interviewer's questions rather than being worried with your seating etiquette.
With these tips, get ready for your next executive role and explore our job search function to find the perfect role for you. Morgan Philips provides expert services in specialist recruitment, executive search functions for a range of clients across the UK.
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