What You Can Learn About Candidates from Their Body Language During a Job Interview

candidate body language

So you have been put in charge of filling a vacancy at your work. Or perhaps you work for a recruitment agency, and you need to interview potential candidates so that you can find them a placement. No matter what industry or level of business you work in, part of the hiring process will require an interview. And when it is a face-to-face, personal interaction interview, then this leads to a potential to learn more about a potential employee than if you were to conduct a phone or web chat interview. There is much to learn from the body language of people, if you understand what to look for and recognize what it means.

Below is an overview of the key things you can learn about a candidate simply from their body language alone. Words are easy to fake, however not many people are good at manipulating their body language as it is significantly more subconscious.

Tip: Monitor them immediately prior to the interview

Oftentimes a person will be at their most natural when they think that they are not being monitored. And the best time is before the interview commence, while they are sitting in a waiting room. The problem with scheduled interviews is that the candidate knows they are getting judged, so this can change how they sit, talk and act. So looking at how someone sits and waits is a good indication of who they are.

Someone who keeps a professional stance while they are waiting for the interview to begin are likely professional in real life. Checking phones, checking watches and putting feet on chairs is a sign of disrespect and boredom.

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Check how the candidate acts prior to the interview


How someone sits and stands can tell you a lot about their confidence and respect. Warning signs include:

  • Slouching and crossing arms.
  • Intrusion of personal space (leaning in too close).
  • Leaning back (in contract, leaning forward is a sign of eagerness and interest).

How to spot a liar

The biggest thing that interviewers like yourself will be looking for are liars. You are wanting someone who is suitable for the job, not someone who just tells you that they are suitable. Spotting liars is surprisingly easy if you keep a keen eye out.

When people talk and interact, they will instinctively move their arms, head and neck in certain ways. And body analysis experts have realized a few key things when it comes to people when they lie.

Common signs of liars:

  • Over blinking, or blinking less than usual. If they are being honest, their blinks should stay steady.
  • Not making eye contact and fidgeting. Liars fidget, this is a well-known fact.
  • Lack of movement. If the candidate is telling a dramatic story yet they barely move an inch, you can bet it is either a lie or an exaggeration.
  • Overemphasis of gestures. On the other hand, if someone was to start waving their hands around more than usual, then this could be a sign of a lie in progress.
  • Change in volume or speed of voice. Any change in volume or speed of their voice will most likely mean a lie. This is because most people get nervous when they lie, and so this will show in their voices.
  • Excessive sweating. Of course, this can just mean that they are extremely nervous, but if they start sweating during the telling of a particular story or fact, this could indicate a lie.
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A handshake is worth a thousand words

A surprising lot can be communicated through a handshake. A strong handshake indicates respect and confidence, and a weak handshake can mean the opposite. Of course too long or too strong a handshake can be a sign of arrogance.

Extra Considerations

There can be multiple factors that influence body language other than what is mentioned above. Age, religion, experience and culture can change how a person acts in certain environments. Michael Carrera, an expert from Scholar Advisor, advises to take this into consideration before you judge purely on their handshake or hand movements.

BIO: Stacey Marone is a graduate of Social Sciences and freelance writer. She likes exploring new cultures, languages and gathering interesting facts. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. You can follow her on twitter.

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