Decoding Non-Verbal Cues In An Interview

Decoding Non-Verbal Cues In An Interview

people sitting on chair in front of table while holding pens during daytime

They say that answering all the questions while effectively selling yourself in the interview can fetch you the job. But little do people know that merely answering the questions is never enough to get you hired. And this applies to Zoom interview as much as in-person interviews.

While it is imperative to articulate properly, an interview comprises of several other aspects as well which can make a world of a difference between pass and fail. And this is where non-verbal cues come into the picture.

According to a study conducted by College Journal, interviews constitute 55% of body language, 7% verbal communication and 38% paralanguage. These statistics prove that non-verbal communication is not just essential, but exceptionally vital to ace the process.

Actions speak louder than words. This anthem rings well in the interview scenario too. You tend to make a non-verbal impression right from the moment you enter your interview office. The interviewer makes his first judgment even before you get to say a word.  Hence, it is to the applicant's advantage to grasp the fundamentals of non-verbal cues for ultimate success.

Non-verbal cues:
  • Give a glimpse of the emotional state of an applicant
  • Regulate the flow of communication
  • Reinforce verbal communication
  • Define the relationship between the applicant and the interviewer

Sometimes even the most qualified candidates do not make a cut due to their behavior or body language. Such mistakes can ruin your chances of getting the job. Therefore it is imperative to understand the various components of non-verbal communication -

Body language

Non-verbal cues

Body language forms an indispensable part of non-verbal communication as it strengthens an individual's articulation while giving a peek into their attitude and emotions. It constitutes your posture, gestures, head and hand movements and an overall presence of your body.

It is not an exaggeration to say that your body language communicates more to the other person than what you say or the tone of your voice. For this reason, your body language has a large effect on the recruiter's perceptions of you and hence your likelihood of being hired.

Let us see a few hacks that help you get through this phase like a pro:

  • Arrival: Walk confidently into the interview cabin, greet your hiring manager, make an eye contact, smile and give a confident handshake. This is where you make your first impression.
  • Posture: As you take your seat, make sure to sit up straight yet in a relaxed way where your shoulders drop naturally. Do not lean back or fidget as it might make you look lethargic or immature. The goal is to appear confident and enthusiastic.
  • Angles: Shoulders should be directed towards the hiring manager to indicate openness.
  • Leaning: Don't be a statue or lean-in too aggressively, you might end up invading the interviewer's personal space. Lean in naturally when appropriate but make sure to return to your original sitting position.
  • Hands and Feet: Keep your feet flat on the floor and hands in a neutral state unless speaking. Practice a few comfortable poses before the interview which make you look like relaxed and engaged.  Let your hands be in a neutral position unless you're speaking. Never fold your arms in an interview. It substantially reduces your credibility.
  • Keep your gesticulation natural and moderate.

Eye Movements

Eye contact

Eyes never lie. Eye movements act like a sneak-peek into one's soul and are often inclined to reveal information unintentionally. Proper eye contact can make or break your efforts of landing the job. Frequency of eye contact, blink rate, and pupil dilation are all a part of eye movements, which, if paid attention can be of immense help in an interview.

  • Maintaining eye contact indicates interest and is also a major source of feedback. You can always understand the interviewer's interest in you through his frequency of eye contact.
  • Making eye contact is important. But it is even more important to avoid over-doing it. Too much of eye contact is not just bad, it is worse than minimal eye contact.
  • A well-known trick here is to look long enough to register the eye color of the interviewer before looking away.
  • If you find it difficult to look straight into the eyes of the hiring manager, here's a hack - draw an imaginary triangle around the other person's eyes and mouth. Shift your glance every five seconds to different points of this triangle. This way you'll look interested and engrossed in the conversation.
  • Maintain a stable blink rate. While too much of blinking could mean that you're stressed or are lying, minimal blink rate makes it creepy and forced.
  • A firm gaze with a steady blink rate cultivates relationships and forms a bridge between listening and speaking.

Voice Modulation

Voice Modulation

A large part of the impression you make in an interview comes from vocal delivery, not what you say, but how you say that. Your voice delivery can hugely influence your perceived confidence and competence. Voice modulation helps in judging your situational temperament and is an excellent way to communicate your passion for the job.

  • Make sure to keep your speech smooth and warm. The interviewer should find you friendly and approachable.
  • Try to match up to your interviewer's pace and speaking volume. Emulating your speaking partner is the most effective way to promote a healthy communication.
  • Pay attention to your intonation, rhythm, and pronunciation.
  • Always be aware of the volume and speed of your message delivery. Express your ideas in short and simple sentences and pause briefly to let the message sink in.
  • Never use words like um, er, uh - huh, like, you know etc.
  • Complete every thought you set out to express. Expressing complete thoughts indicates confidence in your ideas and the ability to bring them to a conclusion.

Tips to impress

Admit it! No matter how much ever we discuss non-verbal cues, it is difficult to practice it in real-time. But here are a few hacks to recede your nervousness and put up a great show in your interview :

Before the interview
  • Dress appropriately for an interview - wear an outfit that is both formal and contemporary. No bright colors. Plan for it a few days before. Ensure it is well-fitting, cleaned and pressed.
  • Don't forget the little things - shine your shoes, check for loose hems and make sure your nails are trimmed and clean.
  • Tone down the bling when it comes to jewelry, makeup and especially fragrance.
  • Keep your stray hair in check. It is a massive turn-off if a candidate's face is shadowed by tufts of hair.
  • Ensure that your tattoos and piercings are well hidden.
  • Bring several copies of your resume to the interview. You can also bring your work samples and portfolio, if appropriate. But make sure they are all organized professionally.
  • Learn about the organization. Research about the company through their website and understand their objective behind establishing the company.
During the interview
  • Make sure that your handshake is firm, but not bone-crushing.
  • Never chew a gum before the hiring panel. It is plain rude and disrespectful.
  • Do not bring your cell phone, iPod or any other gadgets to the venue.
  • Listen. Be attentive and pay attention to detail.
  • Avoid any negative comments. Be positive in narrating your experience.
  • Do not move your hands wildly while enunciating.
  • Do not fidget, tap your feet, drum your fingers or keep touching your hands and face incessantly.
  • Never interrupt the hiring manager.
  • Never degrade or speak ill of your previous employer. This is extremely important.
  • Prepare some interesting questions to ask the hiring manager.
  • Always thank the interviewer for his time and patience before finishing the interview.

Remember, at the end of the day, an interview is also a conversation. If you prepare right and exude professionalism through your body language, you've already aced that interview!

Image Credits: Unsplash

Read other blog posts

Navigating the Maze: Unconventional Resume Tips That Actually Work

Read more

INFOGRAPHIC: Here's Why You need a Great Resume

Read more

6 Pro Tips To List Education In Your Resume

Read more