Author: Michelle Mamerto
The words we choose to say, the clothing we select, and the research that we put in to getting to know our interviewer; those are all things we must pay attention to if we want to be successful in our interviews. But what many candidates are unaware of, is how small a role our words play in communicating. There have been several studies, and most experts agree that 70-93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. Posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, vocal tone, and fidgeting, are all forms of nonverbal communication we use when interacting with each other.
Depending on your body posture, one can surmise a person’s degree of involvement during a conversation. If someone is sitting still and leaning in towards the speaker, it gives the impression of being attentive and engaged. It looks like the interviewer is listening. In contrast, if the interviewee is slouching, it seems like they are not interested or are bored. One’s posture can also indicate if the person is confident, miserable, outgoing or submissive.
Hand gestures help to accentuate verbal communication and sometimes give hints to a person’s emotional state. It can also indicate if someone is nervous or not being honest. Someone whose hands are trembling might be nervous. Someone who is excited may use big arm and hand gestures when they speak.
Facial expressions are probably our biggest nonverbal form of communication. Facial expressions are closely tied to our emotions. Can you imagine answering interview questions with a worried look on your face, or telling an interviewer that you are 100 percent confident in your skills without looking that person in the eye? In order to communicate confidence and enthusiasm, you need to allow your face to be animated and smile as you talk. The excitement in your face will assure your interviewer of your confidence.
Vocal tone includes pitch, volume, and rate all makes a difference in how we communicate. Can you imagine asking a question and not changing your tone towards the end of the question? How about if an interviewer told you they would get back to you about next steps for a job, but you couldn’t hear them because they were speaking too softly or too quickly?
Tapping your feet, drumming with your pens, constantly scratching, stretching, fixing one’s hair, biting one’s nails, they are all ways of fidgeting. Those are all ways for some people release whatever they are feeling inside. Fidgeting can make an interviewer feel like the interviewee is bored or would like to get out of the room as quickly as possible. If you are in a meeting, be mindful that there are other people at the meeting. Maybe take a moment to take a walk or do some deep breathing exercises prior to your meeting, to release some of the extra energy, or go over your meeting materials. It may help to make you feel better prepared.
When it comes to making sure your nonverbal communication matches what you are saying, remember that someone else is on the other side of the conversation. You want to come across as confident and calm. Don’t have your phone out, sit with good posture and when gesturing with your hands, try to avoid being overly animated as it can be distracting. Look the interviewer in the eye and smile from time to time- show that you are engaged and interested.