Can body language and position impact the interview?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

Can body language and position impact the interview?

Peggy Wallace
Founder Making Conversation, LLC

Can body language and position impact the interview?

Want to increase your clarity and confidence? While it may sound unusual, make sure you’re standing up during a call to set up the interview or during the interview itself. Standing enables you to open up your diaphragm, so your voice sounds confident.  It will also add a touch of professionalism and, perhaps, even a sense of control or power, which can soothe your nerves. If you are at home, get dressed for the call. The interview done in your PJs may end up sounding a tad too relaxed.

Peggy Wallace
Founder Making Conversation, LLC

Can body language and position impact the interview?

Definitely! Waiting room chairs and sofas are there to provide a comfortable, usually over-cushioned spot for the visitor to rest while waiting. Many people "settle" or seek refuge in the furniture. You may be nervous. If so, you may go further and further back into the chair or sofa, perhaps using is as a "cave" to comfort or protect you while you wait. If you are interviewing, you'll discover that standing up to greet someone when they arrive can be a less than graceful fluid motion as you may have to "hoist" yourself from deep inside the cushioned seat. Also, you start out "below" the other person, rather than as their equal.

Peggy Wallace
Founder Making Conversation, LLC

Can body language and position impact the interview?

Stand up for yourself! When you are waiting for an interview, whether it is in an office, a coffee shop, or a restaurant, keep standing. It shows respect. In an office situation look at any art on the walls, talk with the receptionist (if they are not busy) or even stand as you look at the magazines, annual reports, etc.  If you stay standing, you are using more energy than you do sitting, and you might be less nervous when you actually meet the person. Watch out for body swaying, side to side rocking, weight shifting or foot tapping, if you tend to "leak" energy in those disconcerting methods. If the coffee shop or restaurant is crowded or you are otherwise encouraged to wait sitting at a table, sit facing the door, so you can spot the other person and stand up immediately. Stay standing until you shake hands and the other person sits down.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Can body language and position impact the interview?

One time, I had a student cross the room, sit on the floor, and look up at my face to answer an interview question - really! I wouldn't recommend that to anyone! It's easy for me to say, but of course body language and body positioning are important. It's good advice for any prospective college student to sit with shoulders back and try to smile, relaxing the body, but to stay on task and full of energy at the same time. I do cut some students more slack than I would a prospective employee; after all some students who interview are still rather young. However, with the resources readily available to prep for interviews - for example, there are great mock interviews on YouTube - a student should know how to act in the interview before experiencing it firsthand. That said, a student will improve with every interview.

Juliet Giglio
Montgomery Educational Consulting

Poor body language can hurt a college interview

When I interview students for a college, the last thing I want to see is a student who is slumped over and bored. His body language tells me that he's really not interested in the college. Maybe he's just applying because his parents have forced him. On the flip side, if a student sits up straight and looks me in the eye and is positive, I'm going to believe that they really want to be accepted to the college and that I should take them seriously as a candidate.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

Can body language and position impact the interview?

if you consider yourself inexperienced with interviews, you should consider mock interview practice with counselor or someone else. a theme song may not help you at all if you need the skills to be competitive.

Ginger Fay
President Fay College Counseling, LLC

Attention, Hair Twirlers!

Each of us has a physical habit that reveals itself most when we are nervous (as you are bound to be for at least some part of every interview you'll ever have). You might be a hair twirler or a nail biter or a leg swinger, but whatever it is, you don't want to do it in your college interviews for fear that you will distract your interviewers (or have them worry about the germs that are now all over your hands!). The good news is that you can solve this problem in two simple steps. Step One: identify your nervous habit (if you don't already know what it is, ask anyone who knows you). Step Two: find something else to do with that part of your body during an interview or any time you need to put your most professional self forward. Hair twirler? Pull your hair back and into a bun. Finger nibbler? Apply lotion to both soften the rough skin that you can't resist and make your hands taste bad. Leg swinger? Cross your legs at the ankle instead of the knee. Now the focus will be on you and the questions you ask and the answers you share - not your annoying nervous habit!

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Kinda...

Body position and body language affect all sorts of human interactions everyday and an interview is no exception. Rather than thinking specifically about how to position yourself and your body parts -- just try taking a few deep breaths to relax and SMILE. This can be helpful is putting you and your interviewer at ease!

Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis Educational Consulting

Yes, but use that to your advantage

Absolutely. We are all social creatures, and we respond to each other in ways that are not always conscious. If you sit back with your arms wrapped around you and your coat still on and never make eye contact, I know it's going to be a tough interview. If your interviewer sits that way, then you have your work cut out for you. My best advice is to relax. Don't try to game it, don't try to figure out what the "right" answer is, and don't worry that it will make or break your application. The interview is often more for your benefit than the college's, but even if it is evaluative, this is just a chance to put a face and personality to your application. Your interviewer may be as nervous as you are. Read their body language, and try to bring them out. Ask them questions, and show interest in what they have to say. Lean forward, smile, make eye contact. So in short, try to enjoy your interview!

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Can body language and position impact the interview?

Definitely. Always make eye contact and sit up straight. I heard a funny story about an interviewee who was so nervous that she kept swinging her foot until her shoe flew off and hit the admissions officer's desk lamp, breaking it. They laughed about it and she was actually admitted. So remember this and realize that you should relax and be yourself!