The Interview Advantage
How to Use Nonverbal Communication to Impress
When interviewing for employment you could be
thinking that if you are the candidate with the best answers to
interview questions, you'll get the job. In fact, that isn't
typically the case.
that, according to some studies, "Body language comprises
55% of the force of any response, whereas the verbal content only
provides 7%, and paralanguage, or the intonation -- pauses and
sighs given when answering -- represents 38% of the emphasis."
As you can see, nonverbal communication is as
important, or even more important than, verbal communication.
The evaluation of your nonverbal communication will start as
soon as you walk into the company's lobby and continue until the
interview is finished.
If your nonverbal communication skills aren't up
to par, it won't matter how well you answer the questions.
Nonverbal Communication Matters
If you come to an interview reeking of
cigarette smoke or chewing gum, you will already have one strike
against you. Too much perfume or not enough deodorant won't help
either. Not being dressed appropriately or having scuffed shoes
will give you a second strike. Talking on your cell phone or
listening to an IPod while waiting to be called for the
interview may be your final strike.
What's important, when interviewing, is to
appear professional and attentive throughout the interview
process. Before you leave for the interview, make sure you are
dressed professionally, neatly groomed, your shoes are polished,
and you haven't overdone (none is better than too much) the
perfume or aftershave. There's more than one hiring manager who
won't hire someone they can smell (good or bad) before they meet
There are things that you should you bring
with you to the interview and things that you need to leave at
What to Bring to an Interview
- Portfolio or pad holder with a copy of
your resume and a list of references on quality paper
- Work Samples (if relevant)
- Notepad, Pen
- Breath mint (before you enter the
- Women: extra pair of pantyhose (keep in
your briefcase or car)
What Not to Bring to an Interview
- Cell phone
- Soda or coffee
- Scuffed shoes, messy and/or not-so-clean
While You Wait
The way you sit in the lobby, the way you
greet the receptionist and the interviewer, and the way you
wait, will all have an impact on whether you are going to be
considered for the job. Be friendly and pleasant, but, not
overbearing. If you need to wait, sit quietly (no phone calls)
and patiently. Shake hands with the interviewer. Your handshake
should be firm - not sticky or wimpy. To avoid sweaty palms,
visit the rest room, wash your hands, then run them under cool
water prior to the interview. Keep your palms open rather than
clenched in a fist and keep a tissue you in your pocket to
(surreptitiously) wipe them.
Nonverbal Communication During the
- Make eye contact with the interviewer for
a few seconds at a time.
- Smile and nod (at appropriate times) when
the interviewer is talking, but, don't overdo it. Don't
laugh unless the interviewer does first.
- Be polite and keep an even tone to your
speech. Don't be too loud or too quiet.
- Don't slouch.
- Do relax and lean forward a little
towards the interviewer so you appear interested and
- Don't lean back. You will look too casual
- Keep your feet on the floor and your back
against the lower back of the chair.
- Pay attention, be attentive and
- Don't interrupt.
- Stay calm. Even if you had a bad
experience at a previous position or were fired, keep your
emotions to yourself and do not show anger or frown.
- Not sure what to do with your hands? Hold
a pen and your notepad or rest an arm on the chair or on
your lap, so you look comfortable. Don't let your arms fly
around the room when you're making a point.
Your verbal communication is important too.
Remember your manners and and thank the interviewer for taking
the time to meet with you. Don't use slang. Speak clearly and
What's most important, is to remember that the
image the interviewer has of you when he first meets you is the
one that is going to last. If you're slouchy, sloppy or messy it
won't matter how well you answer the interview questions. You
are not going to get the job. When practicing for an interview,
work on your nonverbal communications as well as your other
interviewing skills. It could be what clinches the job offer for
Interested in how interviewers evaluate
candidates based on nonverbal communication? Take a look at How
Employers Use Nonverbal Communication in Hiring. "Awareness of
nonverbal communication and the messages job searchers send does
influence your evaluation of job candidates – and it should."