The Importance of Body Language in a Group Discussion or Personal Interview

gdHow you say it is more important than what you say!

The above statement applies to all conversations in general. However, it holds prime importance in the context of a group discussion or interview.A large number of MBA aspirants prepare passionately for important GD topics and appropriate answers to some of the common interview questions. However, shocking as it may be, what you speak during the procedure carries only a part of the entire weightage that the process holds.

What interviewers and GD panel members use to evaluate your personality is more than the words you speak. The panel members and interviewers keenly observe the body language of the candidates.What they perceive about your personality can easily make or break your chances of getting admission in a B-school. Therefore, it is very important for every candidate to portray a positive body language to be able to create a good impression in the interview.

Read on to know more about the right attitude and body language that can be helpful in cracking the MBA admission procedure at the B-school of your choice.

Importance of Positive Body Language

To understand the importance of positive body language, candidates must understand that it is not just the mouth that speaks but the entire body acts as an instrument of speech. So, you must first understand how your body speaks and then learn to manage and control the non-verbal messages that you send across to your audience.

Demonstrating a positive body language is important as interviewers pay attention to the slightest details of your postures and gestures during the interview. Experts advise that you must know how to use your body to effectively enhance your verbal message. Leaning forward slightly towards the group during the Group Discussion and the interviewer during the Personal Interview would go on to show that you are interested. Giving listening cues such as nodding whenever a fellow aspirant/interviewer makes an important point shows your engagement in the process.

On the other hand, gestures such as scratching your head, repeatedly crossing and uncrossing the legs or touching your face are all instances of a nervous body language.These actions must be avoided by the candidates to be able to make a positive impact on the panel members.

Body Language: Things to Consider

Shake Hands Properly

The handshake is a courteous way to acknowledge your interviewer but you should not take initiative to shake hands. Let the interviewer shake hands with you as this is the right way to proceed in an interview. The handshake is the first unspoken assessment of your personality.So, make every effort to impress your interviewer with a confident and firm handshake. Some candidates may shake hands too firmly while others might engage in too limp a handshake. The former might indicate aggressiveness and dominating attitude while the latter one is a sign of weak personality—both of which aren’t good. A proper handshake is firm to the right extent, gives the right kind of contact for an appropriate duration. With a smile and good eye contact, it becomes a good one.


A smiling face portrays exuberance and eagerness and it is a good way to impress your interviewers and the panel members of the group discussion. A smiling and happy demeanor shows that you are really happy to be where you are. But, don’t go overboard with it as an artificial or oversized smile can have the wrong effect. An experienced interviewer will immediately know if you are acting or forcing the smile in a certain way. It is good to smile sometimes when you actually mean it during the interview and group discussion rather than grinning constantly without any reason.

Be Careful Of Personal Space

Individual cultures and faiths in the different candidates who come for admission to the MBA program tend to make them different in all aspects including an appropriate personal space. Some people may feel comfortable speaking only inches from the other person while others may need a decent space. When sitting in a group discussion, you must ensure that you respect the personal space that the candidate sitting beside you. Similarly, when in front of your interviewer, be careful of how far or close you sit.

Be Expressive and Open

Your physical gestures must be expressive and open. You must try to engage your interviewer by gesturing positively such as keeping your palms straight and open which demonstrates honesty. You should never bang your hand on the table and always avoid pointing fingers to make a point during the group discussion and personal interview. These negative physical gestures would not go well with your interviewing panel and should be strictly avoided.

Demonstrate Inquisitiveness     

Maintaining an eye contact and nodding your head are the best ways to show your eagerness or interest in an interview as well as the group discussion. The panel will appreciate that you are actively engaged in the discussion and paying attention to what the others are saying. Lack of eye contact and other listening cues would suggest your disinterest in the interview and weaken your chances to succeed.

Body Language: Things You Should Avoid

Looking Disinterested

Physical gestures such as rubbing the back of the head, touching the nose or hair would signal your disinterest in the interview.Therefore, these actions should be avoided in spite of the bouts of nervousness and stress that you might be experiencing before the interview. Try to sit straight confidently without leaning too forward or bending too backwards during both the group discussion and interview.

Signaling Nervousness

Some candidates may unknowingly grab their folder or bag too tightly or may constantly touch and wipe their face in front of the interviewer. Other gestures such as tapping the fingers, biting or licking the lips, frowning, adjusting hair or clothing again and again must also be avoided for a positive impression on the panel members. These gestures signal the candidate’s nervousness even though he may be trying hard to hide it. The interviewers are smarter and more experienced than you are, so, they can easily perceive gestures that portray anxiety or nervousness. So, try to remain calm and relaxed and do not make unnecessary movements. While being nervous is natural and many interviewers may not find it negative, it will still increase your inhibitions and degrade your performance.

Getting Too Relaxed

Lounging with your arms and legs dangling would suggest you are getting too relaxed for the group discussion and interview. Similarly, crossed feet and completely stretched out legs also demonstrate you are very relaxed for the group discussion and this may also be taken for over confidence on your part. Therefore, you should try to show some seriousness by listening attentively and speaking meaningfully without making any carefree gestures that undermine your intent and eagerness in the selection procedure.

Becoming Defensive

Crossing your arms in front of the interviewer can be perceived as being defensive. It might also suggest that according to you, whatever you are saying is correct and you do not want to accommodate someone else’s views or opinions at all. Therefore, it is advised not to cross your arms during the interview and discussion processes. Instead, sit upright with your arms rested on your thighs to cut out a confident picture.

It might be easy to prepare for the group discussion and the verbal component of the personal interview by studying hard and being well versed with the latest happenings of the world. But candidates should understand that portraying a positive body language is as important as speaking and performing well in the group discussion and personal interview. It is not just about questions and their right answers, but about participating in the selection processes with a favorable body language. Show them that you have the power of expression in you!

10 thoughts on “The Importance of Body Language in a Group Discussion or Personal Interview

  1. It provided me a full fledged cognizance and that too in a clear and concise manner. Few things which I was unknown about were how to do a good handshake, how leaning too forward can become a wrong impression as it shows over confidence. Through this I have realised that why my parents always advise me to walk and sit straight. I’ll definitely keep all these things in my mind. Thank you so much.


  3. very useful article..i was about to search all these points on the internet but now have got more than what i could have searched for..thank you 🙂

  4. Hi Prachi
    plz tell me something about that how to explian strengts & weakness in effective nd impressive so dat interviewer only considered my strengths.

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