Evaluating a Candidate’s Nonverbal Communication During an Interview
When you’re interviewing job candidates, you can often discover a lot about them from what they say—and what they don’t say. Nonverbal cues, or body language, can help you gauge a candidate’s personality, habits, and interest level in the position they’re interviewing for.
These tips will help you decipher an interviewee’s nonverbal communication and gain a clearer overall picture of job candidates.
Professional attire is a must for any job candidate, even if your office dress is typically casual. Look for a business suit complemented with professional accessories—leather purse, portfolio or brief case, a good pen, well shined shoes. Interviewees who have it together visually care enough to want a strong first impression.
If the candidate is obviously going for professional but not quite making it, you can decide whether their best efforts will still work for your culture. This decision is usually based on whether they have other strengths. Candidates who wander in wearing rumpled, casual clothes typically aren’t even trying.
The first contact with a job candidate after a visual impression is usually a handshake. Here, you should be looking for a dry, firm, solid handshake. This indicates the job candidate is confident and comfortable, and wants to make a great impression.
A limp or damp handshake can mean low confidence, low self-esteem, and high nervousness. Candidates who use an excessively firm or strong handshake may be attempting to bluster their way into the position, or could be overly aggressive.
Posture and eye contact
Pay attention to the way job candidates seat themselves for the interview. Posture that is upright and comfortable, but not stiff, can indicate confidence and attentiveness. Taking up an appropriate amount of space adds to the projection of security.
On the other hand, a slouching interviewee may have low self-esteem and sloppy work habits, or may be careless and low-energy.
Effective eye contact is also important. A candidate who meets your gaze and remains attentive while speaking and listening is typically engaged and interested in the position, particularly if they lean slightly forward while listening. Frequently darting eyes can indicate anxiety or insecurity, and intense staring may mean the candidate is confrontational.
Gestures and tone
Watch your candidates’ gestures, and be alert for natural and purposeful movements. If the interviewee shows distracting behavior like tapping, fidgeting, hand-wringing, or playing with jewelry, they probably have less confidence.
A candidate’s tone of voice and speech patterns can also tell you a lot about them. Strong candidates will have a good vocabulary, even tone, pacing and volume, and natural-sounding pauses and inflection. They will also respond to your facial cues.
With a little practice, you can learn to read the body language of job candidates and incorporate this strategy into your interviews. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t rely on nonverbal communication alone to evaluate the candidate—but this tool is an excellent way to enhance your evaluations and hire right the first time.
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