Five Nonverbal Cues to Leverage in Your Next Job Interview

February 13th, 2014

You know all of the common interview advice: do your research, prepare a list of questions, dress to impress and bring a copy of your resume. What you may not know is how much what you don’t say matters. Hiring decisions are often made within the first ten seconds, based on your nonverbal signals, with the interviewer spending the rest of the interview looking for evidence to support that initial impression.

These five tips can help you send the right message during a job interview without saying a word:

1. Focus on the situation, not on your stuff.

As far as nonverbal communication goes, having something in your hands is the equivalent of speaking with your mouth full. If you’re a woman, streamline what you bring with you. Trying to juggle a purse and a briefcase in addition to a coat and other accessories will drag you down physically.

And whether you’re a man or a woman, don’t follow the natural instinct to pick up your things when the interviewer meets you in the lobby. Stand up, greet her with a strong handshake and wait for her cue before you pick up what you brought and start to walk back for the interview.

2. Mirror your interviewer’s movements

Interviewers tend to hire people who are like them. One way you can send a subconscious signal of similarity is by mirroring your interviewer’s movements. For example, smile when he smiles or lean in one direction if he does. Lean forward during the interview to appear as if you’re interested and listening, and nod your head or react appropriately to what the interviewer is saying. Just don’t overdo it!

3. Sit confidently.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But when you’re nervous, your body retracts and tries to make itself smaller. Sitting on the edge of your seats conveys insecurity, while slouching or leaning back implies disinterest. Sit up straight, but not rigid, and use the chair’s armrests if it has them—don’t fold your arms across your body.

4. Make solid eye contact.

When your interviewer is speaking, maintain eye contact. Failure to do so, staring off into space or looking down makes it seem like you’re not paying attention, while also making you seem less confident and even fearful. Just know when to break eye contact, such as when you’re processing information while answering questions.

5. Show your hands but keep your feet on the ground.

Keep your hands open and in view on the table or the arms of the chair, not under the table or in your pockets. Use natural gestures. And keep both feet on the ground to feel more confident and centered, but move them discreetly if you feel stuck or anxious while answering a question.

While having great answers prepared for your interview can help you succeed, knowing what your dress, demeanor, and body language are saying can make a big difference.  For more great interviewing strategies or for help in finding your next career opportunity, contact the recruiting experts at Synerfac!

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