Why Non-Verbal Communication is Crucial in an Interview

Why Non-Verbal Communication is Crucial in an Interview

Non-verbal communication includes body language, eye contact, personal space, gestures, and facial expressions. Your body language can make or break a job interview.

In addition to preparing how you will respond to questions during a job interview, a candidate should also pay attention to what your body language, and actions, may be silently saying for you.

What is Non-Verbal Communication?

Non-verbal communication refers to all the wordless cues and clues people send and receive in everyday encounters.

Unlike verbal communication, non-verbal is continuous. We don’t start and stop giving off these cues, as we do when we say a sentence or tell a story. Non-verbal communication often expresses our true feelings better than our words, and it is harder to control. For this reason, we subconsciously tend to believe it more. (Picture someone saying “I’m fine” as they bang a mug on the table. Which are you likely to trust – the action or the words?)

Non-verbal communication includes body language, but that is not all. There’s also:

Facial expressions

The human face is extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of non-verbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. Try keep your expression open and confident and avoid excessive blinking – a sign of nervousness.

Body movement and posture

Consider how your perceptions of people are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand, or hold their head. The way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the interviewer. This type of non-verbal communication includes your posture, bearing, stance, and the subtle movements you make.

Gestures

Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. You may wave, point, beckon, or use your hands when arguing or speaking animatedly, often expressing yourself with gestures without thinking. However, the meaning of some gestures can be very different. It’s important to be careful of how you use gestures to avoid misinterpretation.

Eye contact

Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of non-verbal communication. The way you look at someone can communicate many things, including interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for gauging the other person’s interest and response.

Touch

We communicate a great deal through touch. Think about the very different messages given by a weak handshake, a warm bear hug, a patronising pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm. Avoid touching your interviewer.

Space

Have you ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and invading your space? Space considerations include not putting your seat too close to your interviewer; giving them ‘room to breathe’. Getting into someone’s space is viewed as offensive or aggressive.

Voice

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. When you speak, other people “read” your voice in addition to listening to your words. Things they pay attention to include your timing and pace, how loud you speak, your tone and inflection, and sounds that convey understanding, such as “ahh” and “uh-huh.” Think about how your tone of voice can indicate sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence.

Silence

Taking time before you answer can show contemplation, but too long may indicate boredom or suggest you are not that ‘on the ball’.

Clothing & Accessories

Dress professionally, depending on the role and industry. Pay attention to grooming (clean fingernails, neat hair, make-up etc.)

Objects & The Environment

If you walk in carrying a sloppy bag, overflowing with messy papers, and take out a chewed pen after fishing out loose till slips and so on, you’ll appear disorganised.

Time

Never, ever be late.

Some other non-verbal behaviour to avoid:

  • A limp handshake.
  • Your cellphone ringing.
  • Looking out the window, not listening.
  • Smelling like the alcohol you drank the night before.
  • Making yourself small (body language), avoiding eye contact or slumping on your chair.
  • Fidgeting, pen clicking or restless leg twitching.

Best of Luck

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