The 7 Things We Tell Candidates During Interviews (Without Saying a Word)
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Does your body language betray you?
You've probably heard the stats that say body language accounts for somewhere between 55 and 90 percent of all communication — and when interviewing job candidates, you likely pay a lot of attention the nonverbal cues they give out that convey their interest, honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, etc. — or a lack thereof.
But how often do you think about how your own body language comes across? It's likely you're so focused on candidates that you forget to think about your own nonverbal cues. Do you unintentionally intimidate candidates? Do your hand gestures and facial expressions convey boredom, irritation or condescension?
Understanding the nonverbal signals you send can be just as important as reading your candidates' body language — especially since, as the interviewer, you have a direct impact on the candidate's impression of the company and the resulting decision to accept or reject a job offer.
Unfortunately, sometimes the biggest offenders are the seemingly harmless things we do — tics, if you will — that we don't even think about. Below are seven negative messages your body language sends to candidates, and how to correct them:
- The Message: "I'm uncomfortable."
- The Tip-Off: Sitting with legs crossed while shaking one leg or wiggling a foot. A lot of leg movement in general is both distracting and indicates nervousness. Sit with your legs crossed at the angles, or place both feet flat on the floor to convey confidence and relaxation.
- The Message: "You're annoying me."
- The Tip-Off: You're drumming your fingers on your desk. Rubbing your face can also indicate irritation. You can keep your hands in check by resting them, loosely clasped in your lap or on the table in front of you.
- The Message: "I couldn't be more bored by what you have to say."
- The Tip-Off: Rubbing the back of your head or neck indicates boredom and irritation. An innocent enough gesture, but now that you're aware of the message it sends, try to keep it to a minimum or stop doing it altogether.
- The Message: "I'm better than you."
- The Tip-Off: You're leaning back in your chair and folding your arms across your chest, which can be seen as arrogant. The same goes for resting one leg or ankle on top of your other knee. Give the candidate your full attention and respect by sitting upright with your torso facing him or her.
- The Message: "I'm not taking you seriously."
- The Tip-Off: You're smiling a little too much. You're probably only trying to put the other person at ease, but be careful to not smile too much when talking about serious subjects, as your grin might suggest that you aren't taking the discussion seriously enough.
- The Message: "I'd rather be anywhere but here."
- The Tip-Off: Pointing your feet toward the door — or leaning in that direction — tells the person you're conversing with that you want to get heck out of there ASAP. Make sure you are facing the other person squarely, with your feet flat on the floor or crossed at the ankles.
- The Message: "I don't care."
- The Tip-Off: Leaning back in your chair and placing your hands in a "steeple" position, tends to show indifference on your end. Instead, show interest by leaning forward slightly in your chair, and lightly clasping your hands in your lap or placing them near your knees.
Even if you are bored, annoyed, or disinterested, it's still important that you maintain a professional demeanor and treat your candidates with respect. In fact, now that you are aware of how others might be interpreting your nonverbal cues, be willing to forgive these gestures in others, as, your interview subject may not realize he or she is making them. While you want to ensure you hire someone who is comfortable within your company, you have to be willing to forgive some degree of nervousness, too.