Make eye contact, but not too much.

Whether it’s your first job interview or your 10th, watching the way you act may be more important than what you say.

That’s at least what a study of 300 U.S. managers from staffing firm OfficeTeam says. Thirty percent of job applicants display poor body language, and if they didn’t, they’d increase their chances of getting a job and making more money.

“Providing thoughtful responses and asking intelligent questions carry a lot of weight during a job interview, but your body language can also speak volumes,” says Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Candidates need to do everything they can to increase their chances of receiving an offer — and that includes avoiding negative and distracting nonverbal behaviors.”

On a scale from one-to-five ranking the most telling of nonverbal cues, eye contact received the highest response of 4.18. Nonverbal cues have been the main reason bosses gave for not hiring applicants in previous research from CareerBuilder, but it’s not just simply body language — it’s also completely weird activity due to the stress of a job interview.

“Acing the job interview isn’t just about what you say in response to the interviewer’s questions,” says Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources for CareerBuilder. “It’s also about what your body language says about you. Employers are looking for those non-verbal cues to indicate a candidate’s level of professionalism and if they will be the right fit for the position.”

Inappropriate body language for interview

Eye contact isn’t the only complaint from employers. A study on body language during a job interview shows there are plenty other strange things people do when they’re nervous…

  • Don’t smile: 36 percent
  • Play with something on the table: 33 percent
  • Have bad posture: 30 percent
  • Fidget too much in their seat: 29 percent
  • Cross their arms over their chest: 26 percent
  • Play with their hair or touch their face: 25 percent
  • Have a weak handshake: 22 percent
  • Use too many hand gestures: 11 percent
  • Having a handshake that is too strong: 7 percent

Hiring managers are paying attention and judging candidates on whether they will be valuable to their company for hopefully a long time. Getting a feel for how hard this person will work, and whether or not they’re a serial killer, is going through their head before deciding to hire you. Or, at least, that’s what we figure — making ourselves more nervous than we need to be.

CareerBuilder recommends job seekers research the company, rehearse, plan to pitch why you’re the right fit — and to just relax and breathe. Deep breathing can relieve your anxiety and help avoid other quirky behavior and fidgeting.

How weird are people during interviews?

Earlier this year CareerBuilder released on the strangest body language. This study also pointed out some bizarre situations hiring managers reported experiencing.

Candidates told the hiring manager everything from if they wanted to go to heaven they should hire them, to bragging that the local newspaper wrote about this one time where they stole a treadmill from an elderly woman’s house.

“The best solution to minimize pre-interview anxiety is solid preparation,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “If you don’t read about the company and research your role thoroughly, you could magnify your fear of interviewing poorly and lose the opportunity.”

So if you’re looking for a job, just try to breathe and rest easy knowing your competition may have just eaten crumbs off the table, or asked the interviewer why their aura didn’t like them. You’ve got this.

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Career and Business

employment, get hired, job interview

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Article last modified on August 8, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Better Body Language Can Land You A Job - AMP.