Monday, May 11, 2009

Body Language can Bury you in the Job Interview

A UCLA study showed that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Author, Alton Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, states that the impact of a message is 7% verbal, 38 % percent vocal ie. volume, pitch, rhythm, etc and 55% is about body movement, mostly in the form of facial expressions.

If you are job hunting, you should know that hiring managers and interviewers spend a lot of time interpreting body language in the job interview. Some interviewers are actually masters at the body-language game. They can spot fear through hunched shoulders, rapid or really slow speech and disinterest in a job seeker’s slouch.

Here are some of the body language issues to watch for in the job interview:

- Not making eye contact with the recruiter or interviewer or looking only at one interviewer if you are in a panel interview.
- Weak handshake
- Slouching or hanging over the arm of the chair might tell your interviewer that you don’t really care. Maintaining an arrogant posture, leaning back in a matter-of-fact way might indicate some arrogance.
- Gesticulating wildly and relying on your hands to do all the talking. Resting your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair is good.
- Fidgeting with tight or ill fitting clothing such as trying to close the gap between buttons on a tight blouse or pulling down uncomfortable pants.
- Scratching head, hair, skin or other body parts are a no-no.

These body language no-no’s can be a real turn off to recruiters in the job interview. The worse part is that the job seekers may not even be aware of how they are missing opportunities.

Job seekers should create a quick checklist with these and other points and practice the job interview with someone who will critique them honestly. Another way to check on your body language turn-offs is to set up a camera to record your movements. Work on eliminating any negative messages you might be transmitting through your body language.

As you watch your own body language and movements in the job interview, also watch those of the recruiter.

-Is your panel interviewer at the end of the table falling asleep?
-Is anyone yawning from your stories?
-Is the interviewer texting under table?
-Are they working on other projects?
-Are they eating during the phone interview?
-Are they taking calls that they did not say would be coming in?
-Are they leaving in the middle of the interview again without saying they would?

I have actually seen or heard of recruiters doing all these things in job interviews. Not only is this bad recruiter behavior, and rude to the job seeker, it is also very distracting to an already nervous candidate.


eve said...

Body language can say a lot. I think the limp handshake bothers me most.


almostgotit said...

I sat through an in-house sales pitch (for the world's most expensive knives!) by a young friend of my son's the other day. I was one of his first customers.

I was very impressed by his professional appearance when he first arrived. Howeer, nervous young man kept waved his hands around as he talked, sometimes with knives still in them (!) and absent-mindedly ate up most of the pieces of food he was cutting up during his demonstrations (no, he didn't offer any to me!)

My young friend clearly just wasn't paying attention, and was a little scary besides.

I wonder if a person could try practicing these things first in a more comfortable situation, when self-observation wouldn't just make things worse. How about trying to share an entire meal with friends or family while keeping one's hands in one's lap and one's body in an alert, engaged-looking pose.

Philippines Jobs said...

Great post! Many are not aware if this. Also, when offering a hand-shake, do it with just a little squeezing of the hand of the interviewer. Do not offer a limp hand. And do not shake the hand vigorously. If you can recognize their names, formally address them while shaking their hands. If you do not know their names, just do not bother. A simple 'hello' will do. Do not offer shaky hands or sweaty palms.