What You Communicate Without Saying a Word
Published: Nov 02, 2015
Our experts say a well prepared candidate will not only say the right thing in an interview, but will also communicate through their body language that they are the right fit for the position.
Body Language Matters
Bill Balderaz, president of marketing firm Fathom, says that what a candidate's body language communicates can be even more influential than the spoken word. "I pay much more attention to body language than I do to the words someone says. Do they project empathy, confidence, and knowledge?" Balderaz says he looks for signs that the candidate is engaged in the interview, such as head nodding and leaning into the conversation. "I think of myself as a prospect, is this the body language that will make me want to work with a person, and a company?" Balderaz says that taking notes is another sign that the candidate is engaged in the conversation, but warns against taking notes so rigorously that the candidate is no longer actively taking part in the conversation.
Sit Up Straight
Jonathan Simon, vice president of talent acquisition and human resources for Forman Automotive, Inc., says that a candidate's posture enables him to envision the type of employee they will become. "A person sitting too relaxed in their chair is a turnoff for me. It shows a bit of cockiness and is unprofessional,"Simon says. Simon explains that while he is looking for a candidate that exudes confidence while remaining relaxed, slouching or slumping in a chair takes it too far. According to Patrick Lynch, president of executive and career coaching firm The Frontier Group, a candidate who doesn't slouch or lean back, but instead leans forward into the conversation, demonstrates that they are interested in the interview and have a good energy level. However, Lynch cautions candidates from leaning too far forward. "People all have their own comfort zone or personal space. Leaning too far forward makes some interviewers uncomfortable," Lynch warns.
Maintain Eye Contact, Without Giving the "Death Stare"
Body language expert, Patti Wood, says that in a typical conversation eye contact is usually made 60% of the time, and it is expected that a candidate look away here and there. "It is normal to look away from time to time as you speak, because you'e accessing information from your brain. Actually, the listener should be the one making the most eye contact. So when your interviewer is talking, lock in. Keeping the eye connection tells the interviewer you are paying attention and are interested in the job. After giving an answer, remember to make eye contact with the interviewer, don't 'click off' when you are not 'on'," Woods recommends. Kiah Jones, strategic planning officer at recruiting firm Windsor Resources, agrees that eye contact is essential, citing it as one of the ways an interviewer can determine if a candidate is excited about a position, and if they would be a good fit. "An attentive candidate with strong listening skills that involves eye contact can be revealing. These candidates are present, engaged, and interested. If a candidate doesn't convey excitement for a role in an interview, they will most likely not have any passion or creativity if they are hired," Jones says.
Keep Arms Uncrossed
"The worst thing a candidate can do is sit with their arms crossed. This gives the appearance of 'holding back', and reflects negative energy ranging from nervousness to combativeness," warns Jones. Instead, Jones recommends that candidates carry themselves with relaxed (but not stooped) shoulders, demonstrating that they are both poised and comfortable. Again, Jones stresses that if a candidate gives off a defensive or low energy during the interview, this sends the message that the candidate will become a low energy and defensive employee if hired.
Understand You're Being Watched
Our experts have established how a candidate needs to present themselves once in the interview room, but Mario Almonte, managing partner of Herman & Almonte PR, says that body language outside of the interview room matters, too. "The interviewing process begins the moment you enter the reception area. The receptionist and anyone else in the office are assessing you. If they see you fidgeting, acting strangely, or otherwise not acting like a professional, they're going to tell HR later," Almonte warns. Almonte says that while waiting to be interviewed, candidates should sit calmly and their body movements should show confidence and professionalism. "The bottom line is that you should consider yourself under 24/7 surveillance the moment you enter the office for a job interview. Assume that people are watching your every movement and that they will report any suspicious looking characters to management," Almote cautions.
All of our experts agree that the unspoken communication of body language plays an important role in their selection process, so remember, they're watching you.