Body language – getting it right for an interview

Your CV may be perfect, your attire is appropriate on but if your body language isn’t right, you could ruin your chances in the interview. It’s a key part of your interview preparation and is important, especially in the Middle East. This subtle art that needs to be considered carefully before your interview.
First impressions count and your body language will play a big part in how you come across to the interviewer. The body language you portray will indicate your attitude and give off vibes that will be perceived as either negative or positive. It pays to give plenty of attention to these details.

The handshake

When doing business in the Middle East, handshakes are always used and can last a long time. Islamic etiquette recommends that one waits for the other to withdraw their hand first before doing the same. Always use the right hand. If you are introduced to a woman as a male, it is advisable to wait and see if a hand is extended. If it is not, then do not try to shake hands. This applies vice versa with woman introduced to a local male. Where appropriate, the handshake will be the first thing you do when you meet your interviewer. Avoid a limp, insincere handshake but don’t offer a bone crushing squeeze either. The handshake should be firm and positive. Smile at the same time to make the greeting friendly.

Eye contact

Good eye contact is probably the most important thing regarding body language. Do it well and it demonstrates confidence; that you’re someone who’s sincere and ready to engage. Avoid staring out the window or down at your shoes; this will portray weakness and insincerity. Making eye contact is particularly important when listening and replying to a question as it shows that you’re actually interested and listening carefully to the interviewer. Your answers will have strength if you’re making good eye contact. If you’re being interviewed by more than one person, remember to engage through eye contact with each person. Be careful not to overdo it and adopt a blank stare at your interviewer throughout the interview!

Body posture

How you sit in the chair is often overlooked. Slouching looks like you’re not interested or bored and fidgeting which will display nerves. Try to sit still, relaxed and upright, though not stiff. Lean forward slightly to appear alert and interested in the interviewer. Try not to cross your arms as this appears defensive. Resist crossing your legs or tapping your feet, as this will display nerves. Remember also, that in the Middle East, showing the soles of your shoes may be offensive.


If you’re nervous and your hands are likely to shake, or you’re the type who uses their hands a lot to express yourself, a good tip is to keep your hands together resting on the table with your fingers interlocked. Keeping them out of sight under the table isn’t an option as this will look weak. Also ensure your hands are clean and well groomed. This is particularly important in the Middle East. By developing your body language skills, you’ll give yourself every chance of having a successful interview.
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