Nonverbal Communication During an Interview
After you’ve submitted your winning resume and landed a job interview, chances are you spend a lot of time preparing for the questions that may be asked and the answers you’ll give. But remember nonverbal communication is just as important as what you’ll say.
Consider: Many studies show people form their first impressions on others based 55% on body language and only 7% based on actual verbal content.
During an interview, managers will be listening to what you’re saying, but they’ll also be reading your body language. Subtle nonverbal cues like hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions reveal a lot about how you’re feeling.
The goal is to use positive body language and gestures to give the impression you’re calm, relaxed, and confident. Projecting this strong image can go a long way in lending credibility to what you’re saying during the interview.
Based on Empire Resume’s study of nonverbal communication, here’s what you need to know for an upcoming job interview:
Basics of Nonverbal Communication
When people talk about communication, we often think about the verbal kind – what’s being said. But there’s much more to interpersonal communication than the words we say, especially during a job interview.
Nonverbal communication includes signals like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of voice, body language gestures, and the physical distance between the people communicating.
This wide range of nonverbal signals provides additional information and context during conversations that adds meaning to what’s being said.
Nonverbal cues can sometimes be even more important than what we say. These cues can reinforce, or contradict, what’s said in words. For example, when someone shrugs their shoulders and says, “I’m fine,” it probably signals they’re not feeling fine at all.
The nonverbal types of communication are often the best indicator of someone’s emotional state. We can usually tell how someone is feeling based on things like their facial expressions and tone of voice.
It’s important to remember people generally have less control over nonverbal communication than the verbal kind. This is because nonverbal communication is largely driven by emotions and instincts.
Keep this last part in mind during your interview. How you’re feeling will most likely determine the nonverbal cues you give to the manager. For example, if you’re feeling nervous and not very confident, you’ll be more likely to fidget and avoid eye contact.
Empire Resume reminds you that adequately preparing for the interview and using relaxation techniques can build confidence and a sense of ease which, in turn, will lead to positive nonverbal cues more naturally.
Nonverbal Do’s and Don’ts
Your nonverbal cues will make a lasting impression during your interview. If you slouch and your appearance is messy, the chances are you probably won’t get the job.
Make sure you’re dressed professionally for your interview, you’re neatly groomed, and don’t overdo perfume or aftershave. Be friendly while waiting in the lobby and be patient and don’t kill time by playing with your phone.
During the interview, make eye contact with the hiring manager for a few seconds at a time, which displays confidence. Smile and nod (at appropriate times) while the manager is talking, but don’t overdo it.
Keep an even tone of voice while you’re talking, and don’t speak too loudly or quietly. Also, pay attention to your posture. Don’t slouch – instead, relax and lean forward a little toward the manager, which shows him or her you’re interested and engaged in the conversation.
As for posture, also don’t lean back, as this will make you seem too relaxed and casual. Pay close attention while the manager is speaking and practice active listening skills. It’s also smart to take occasional notes, which can help when you get a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview.
Stay calm while answering difficult questions. Try to keep your emotions in check and don’t show anger or frown, even if asked about something particularly difficult, like a previous job where you had been laid off or fired.
Poise, Interest, and Expressiveness
So many of our nonverbal communication cues are unconscious, and we can be unaware of our tendencies. That’s why Empire Resume always recommends doing mock or practice interviews so you can work on nonverbal (and verbal) communication.
A friend, family member, or career coach can analyze and correct less than positive nonverbal signals during mock interviews. You could even record the practice interviews and look over the video together.
Paying closer attention to nonverbal communication won’t just help during the job interview. These subtle forms of communication are always important in life and the workplace. Learning how to appear more relaxed and confident will help during the interview and during daily interactions in the office once you land a job.
Empire Resume recommends focusing on three specific things to convey during the interview: poise, interest, and expressiveness.
You’ll want to appear poised, as in confident and comfortable. People who display this quality can control nervous tics and behaviors and look like they’re ready to take on the world. The more practice you get at job interviews, the more you’ll be able to naturally look poised.
It’s also important to verbally and nonverbally express your interest in the job. From a nonverbal standpoint, this means you should never look disinterested by yawning, slouching, or looking bored. Make an appropriate level of eye contact during the interview, lean forward to look engaged, and be attentive to what the manager is saying.
Finally, be expressive in a positive way with your nonverbal cues. This means demonstrating excited energy while speaking and answering questions, smiling, and generally appearing cheerful.
The Natural Solution for Good Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal communication such as body language, posture, and facial expressions are important during your job interview. But remember there’s no magic recipe for success in this area. The key is to act natural and appear confident, relaxed, and interested in the job, the company, and the interviewer.
Most of our nonverbal cues are triggered by our emotional states so, while it’s possible to appear poised when you’re super-nervous, you should also work on calming your nerves so you can naturally feel and appear relaxed.
Take the time to prepare for your interview by researching the company and the questions you may be asked. Also, practice good self-care by getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy breakfast before you leave.
Bottom line: Know the basics of positive nonverbal communication for job interviews, but keep in mind that the more prepared you are and the more confident you are in yourself, the more likely you’ll naturally exude confidence and express positive body language, facial expressions, etc.
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.