Interview body language -- crossing legs too casual?

Jul 5, 2010
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This is something I've thought about a bit. I know that in general (for job interviews and such), crossing your legs can be considered too casual. However, up to this point, most of my medical school interviews have been pretty laid-back: no table, essentially just the two of you in chairs sitting down and chatting. I have not crossed my legs even though I would be most comfortable in that position. I tend to be easy-going, so it feels more natural to me. I don't feel awkward NOT crossing my legs, but based on how many of these schools are pitching the interviews as being very low-stress and just a "get-to-know-you" kind of thing, it seems to me like traditional job interview tips would not always apply. Adding to that, the interviewers themselves were often sitting with their legs crossed.

By crossing my legs, I mean calf on the knee -- a more masculine position than knee over knee (in my opinion), and more professional than ankle over knee.

What are everyone's thoughts? If anyone has interviewed med students and could give input then that would be great.
 

cfx

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I think you're reading too much into this. I've never paid attention but I most likely cross my legs during interviews unless a very formal tone is established. THat's how I'm most comfortable and I find it relaxing. If I were an interviewer, a comfortable and relaxed interviewee would make me feel better than a stiff one...up to a point of course.

That said, i'm sure if you went to a professional mock interview where they taught proper etiquette, they'd most likely tell you to keep the feet firmly planted.
 

Janieve

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Oct 22, 2009
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In general, you can't be too careful at interviews. Anthropologically speaking, the body position your interviewer takes is designed to make him seem larger, and as such more important. He's probably not aware he's doing it, either. It's a natural position to assume with someone of 'lower status'. Your best bet is always to be more careful than you think you need to be.

For men, feet on the ground. If you need to relax, casually shift your knees apart and extend your feet forward a tiny bit. But generally, you'll want to keep them bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your back away from the back of your seat. Shoulders squared, hands in your lap unless gesturing, and when placing your arms on the table (assuming table or desk is too low to place hands beneath), ensure that only your forearms and not your elbows touch the table.

For women, crossing the legs at the ankle is acceptable. Gently tuck one foot behind the ankle and keep the calves together. Knees should touch, but not clench. Hands should also be folded in the lap (same rules for the desk apply), and it is best if your back doesn't touch your chair. Straighten the back and do not tilt your head (women tend to have this problem more than men).

Definitely pick up a book on interview etiquette if you're unsure of a nuance or two. Most libraries have copies available. If you're really up for it, read Emily Post's Etiquette, which should take you a good month and make you feel terrible for every single rule you break.

Hope that helps!
 
Apr 22, 2010
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In general, you can't be too careful ainterviews. Anthropologically speaking, the body position your interviewer takes is designed to make him seem larger, and as such more important. He's probably not aware he's doing it, either. It's a natural position to assume with someone of 'lower status'. Your best bet is always to be more careful than you think you need to be.

For men, feet on the ground. If you need to relax, casually shift your knees apart and extend your feet forward a tiny bit. But generally, you'll want to keep them bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your back away from the back of your seat. Shoulders squared, hands in your lap unless gesturing, and when placing your arms on the table (assuming table or desk is too low to place hands beneath), ensure that only your forearms and not your elbows touch the table.

For women, crossing the legs at the ankle is acceptable. Gently tuck one foot behind the ankle and keep the calves together. Knees should touch, but not clench. Hands should also be folded in the lap (same rules for the desk apply), and it is best if your back doesn't touch your chair. Straighten the back and do not tilt your head (women tend to have this problem more than men).

Definitely pick up a book on interview etiquette if you're unsure of a nuance or two. Most libraries have copies available. If you're really up for it, read Emily Post's Etiquette, which should take you a good month and make you feel terrible for every single rule you break.

Hope that helps!
And after making sure to nail all that.... answer the questions :idea:
 

StarryNights

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Jul 29, 2008
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I honestly don't think it's that important. Just sit up straight, make eye contact without staring down your interviewer, smile and you'll be fine. They know you're nervous. Your legs are under the table anyway, they're not going to see anything. At one of my interviews the student interviewer had slipped off her flats and was barefoot under the table.
 
OP
G
Jul 5, 2010
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I honestly don't think it's that important. Just sit up straight, make eye contact without staring down your interviewer, smile and you'll be fine. They know you're nervous. Your legs are under the table anyway, they're not going to see anything. At one of my interviews the student interviewer had slipped off her flats and was barefoot under the table.
I've only had three of my interviews be at a table... the others were just chair to chair, no table.

And yes, this is hardly the most crucial thing in an interview. But, non-verbal communication can sometimes be given more attention by certain people.
 
Jan 17, 2010
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I've only had three of my interviews be at a table... the others were just chair to chair, no table.

And yes, this is hardly the most crucial thing in an interview. But, non-verbal communication can sometimes be given more attention by certain people.
If the interviewer finds the conversation with you to be comfortable, interesting and engaging, no notice will be taken of whether or not you've crossed your legs.

If they don't, you may have a problem and it will have nothing to do with your posture.
 

Hemichordate

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What's the best way to position your hands on the table when not gesticulating? Clench into fits or open? Close together or spaced apart?
 

Mr Karatepants

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Also, what is more appropriate for an interview: boxers, or briefs?

I wear boxers but am afraid that this may be seen as too casual by my interviewer. I want to stand out but yet be seen as conservative, so maybe a set of Hanes tighties in an alternative color or pattern such as herringbone pink?
 

addo

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I've only had three of my interviews be at a table... the others were just chair to chair, no table.

All my interviews have involved a table or desk. Anyways, I had never given thought to cross or not to cross. I probably crossed my legs in 80% of my interviews. I really doubt interviewers would take note of the position of your legs, as long as they are reasonably within the confines of what is "acceptable".
 

Forthegood

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What's the best way to position your hands on the table when not gesticulating? Clench into fits or open? Close together or spaced apart?
Hands open in front of you like the religious nuts do in church. Attendings like to be appreciated, and they are your god.
 

DaisyBuchanan

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This thread just made me think of that famous leg-crossing scene with Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. If you cross your legs like her, then I wouldn't really recommend it. :p
 

298609

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Dec 8, 2009
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This thread just made me think of that famous leg-crossing scene with Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. If you cross your legs like her, then I wouldn't really recommend it. :p

hahaha love it. this is my plan.

also seriously???? seriously???? BE YOURSELF. if you feel uncomfortable not crossing your legs or you're getting a cramp or something why in the world would you stay looking all creepy and stiff and awkward. it'll make YOU look bad if you do unnatural stuff. just be mature and act respectful, body language should fall into place.
 
Jan 29, 2010
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If they sit you on a couch or cushion chair you would look like a tool sitting straight up feet to the ground hands on your knees. Relax.

If you are at a table, folding legs will be diffcult and hands will naturally rest in front of you.
 
May 25, 2010
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Typical sdn craze. I crossed my legs at all of my 10 interviews and have 2 acceptances and no rejections. If you are worried just don't do it. But any place that would reject me for that can suck it.