4 Distracting Behaviors in Job Interviews

by | Last updated Jul 21, 2021 | Interview and Job Search Skills, nonverbal communication

Do you swivel, shift, click, or bounce when you’re interviewing for a job? If so, these distracting behaviors can take the interviewer’s focus away from what you’re saying instead to what you’re doing.

Here are four common distracting tendencies and how to fix them:

Swiveling in Your Chair

The first distracting behavior is swiveling back and forth in your office chair. You know who you are!

It can be calming (and kind of fun) for you to swivel back and forth, but it’s noticeable. If you’re interviewing from home, the easiest fix is to swap out your swivel chair for a chair with four legs. If you’re interviewing on site and there’s no other option, then be mindful to sit still.

Shifting from Side to Side

If you like to stand during interviews or meetings on video, you may have a tendency to shift from side to side.

Standing up can work well because it allows you the chance to bring more energy to the conversation. But if you’re shifting back and forth or side to side, others will notice.

Plant your feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly flexed, and be mindful to stand still. Then focus on your upper body, using your hands to gesture and add energy to your conversation. Use a visible reminder note that says “stand still!”

Clicking Your Pen On and Off

Another distracting behavior is clicking your pen on and off during the interview.

It is great to take a few notes during the interview, but clicking that pen on and off is annoying to some people. Tell yourself to put down the pen between note-taking or use a pen that doesn’t click. (And don’t hold the pen in your hand as you talk–another small distraction.) Practice losing this habit before Interview Day, so you have time to train yourself out of the habit.

Bouncing or Jiggling Your Legs

Jiggling or bouncing your legs, whether you’re remote or in person, is a big distraction.

If you’re in your home office, if your legs are beneath your desk, you can really jostle the desk and your computer screen will move quite a bit. If you’re in person, this can happen if you’re seated at a conference table. If you’re not at a desk or table, it’s still easy to see that you’re moving a lot.

Try sitting away from furniture where your legs or knees might be making contact. If you’re at home, you can stand as you interview and try that instead, focusing on planting your feet.

Write it Down

If you know you have any of these tendencies, use Post-it notes or a big sign that reminds you to not swivel, shift, click, or jiggle. Often just the act of writing something down and having it visible is effective.

Do you have any of these tendencies? What adjustment can you make? At your next interview, be memorable for what you say you can offer the company rather than your habits or fidgeting.


dalena bradley job interview coach career coach I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview and career marketing coach dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job! Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.  
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