Graduate Job Search Surgery – This Week: Body Language Problems And Why Cover Letters Are Overrated

Every two weeks we’ll answer your graduate job hunt questions.
You ask us a question – and we’ll do our best to answer. As long as it’s about graduate recruitment.

‘Body Language Problems’

Hey Nicky,


I’ve been told I look ‘too relaxed’ in interviews. I know I have a tendency to slouch. I’ve tried to improve my body language, by standing up straight and making more eye contact. Do you have anymore suggestions?


Hi Carl,

Great question! As a fellow sloucher, you have my sympathies, thankfully there are a few simple things you can do to improve your body language:

  • Sit Up Straight: you’ve already mentioned this one so you probably know that slouching makes us look lazy and not bothered. Whether you’re standing or sitting, keep your back straight – it will instantly make you look alert and interested in what the interviewer has to say.


  • Strong Handshake: Research indicates that employers judge a job seeker immediately by the quality of their handshake. The better the handshake, the better your prospects. So make sure you develop a firm handshake, it could make the difference between being offered the job or leaving the interview empty handed.


  • Good Eyecontact:
    Too much eyecontact...

    Too Much Eyecontact And You’ll Look Like This Guy

    Too little eye-contact makes you appear unsure and shifty, too much and you’ll look like a crazed serial killer. However, if you maintain a good level of eye-contact, you’ll appear confident and it will be easier to build rapport with the interviewer.


  • Smile: According to a recent Career Builder Survey, not smiling is one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the interview. So smile – make sure the interviewer knows you’re happy to be there and excited about the job opportunity

 Best of luck!


Are Cover Letters Really Needed?’

not necessary to write individual cover letters for every single application

Is a cover letter just more unnecessary work?

Hi Nicky,

I’m currently putting my CV together. I’ve read that I should also have a cover letter prepared for every application I make. It seems like a lot of unnecessary work, should I bother making a separate cover letter for every job I apply for or can I get by without one?


Hi Ola,

The short answer is that it depends on the situation.

If you’re applying to graduate vacancies by coldcalling (see our post on how to do this) or otherwise approaching the employer directly, then its not necessary because you will have introduced yourself already and explained why you are interested in the company and the role.

On the other hand, if you’re applying passively – so mainly online and sending your cv without interacting with the employer beforehand, then yes, preparing a cover letter is a good idea. It will act as an introduction in explaining who you are and why you’re interested in the role.

Just as an aside, unless completely impossible, I would always advise you to approach the employer directly and speak to them about the role. CV’s and cover letters are very easy to ignore – a human voice isn’t.

Hope that helps.

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