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Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

Non-Verbal Communication
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“I don’t know what happened! Everything went so well!”
Many an annoyed job seeker has said this at some point. It starts like this. The candidate appears for what they think was the best interview of their lives. Everything goes according to plan. The HR manager seems highly impressed and assures them that he or she will get in touch soon.

Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

Interviewers who meet candidates on a regular basis may be adept at being uniformly neutral with every one of them. But non-verbal communication or body language never lies. Understanding what the recruiter is actually thinking when they are saying something else helps a candidate stay two steps ahead of the game. If the cues are positive, it tells the job seeker that he or she is on the right track. If not, it lets them know they need to change their approach.

Non-verbal communication basics

It is said that as much as 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. That means we read people by things like posture, expression and gestures, rather than by what they say. In the context of job interviews, this doesn’t mean that qualifications, skills and experience are not important. But interviewers meet new candidates practically daily. They’re looking for someone who creates a great impression from the second they walk in. If that does not happen, they start to tire and their non-verbal communication will reflect their boredom. The first indicator of someone favorably disposed to you is that they turn themselves to face you, with plenty of eye contact. This shows interest in what you have to say. In some societies, direct eye contact (or physical contact of any sort, like shaking hands), especially between members of the opposite sex, is less common. Bear this in mind. If their body language is ‘open,’ i.e., if they are not crossing their arms or hands in front of their bodies, even better. Crossing of arms usually means the person is ‘protecting’ themselves from the other person or is defiantly sticking to their version of things. Then there are indicators, such as nodding and smiling, which often signify approval of your point and the willingness to hear you. Being restless, however, means the opposite. If the interviewer frowns, touches his face, keeps shifting his posture or shrugs, it could mean he either doesn’t understand you or doesn’t want to. There are certain things that recruiters normally look for and respond positively to. Follow these tips to avoid common mistakes made by job seekers when they meet potential employers.

Avoiding pitfalls

When you head for a job interview, there are some things you just cannot help – for example, an interviewer in a bad mood. Or someone else being better qualified for the vacancy. However, you can ensure that you are at your best when you meet the recruiter, so that his or her checklist narrows down considerably.

Appearance, as always, is critical. Smart, professional attire and good grooming not only make you more desirable to meet, but also add confidence. When you dress well and look good, you feel great. And other people can sense it. When we see good-looking people, we tend to smile more and be less tough with them. We also try to sit nearer to them and get more animated. If the interviewer reacts thus, you’re probably doing a great job of it! Preparation is equally important. If you keep the interviewer engaged with succinct and intelligent answers to their questions, they are more likely to react positively. If you drone on and on with irrelevant information, your interviewer is likely to wring his hands, rub his eyes or look at his watch. Those are signs it’s time to wind up your monologue. Sometimes, people’s body language mirrors that of the person whose company they are in. So ensure you’re not the one giving off negative cues. Sit straight, be enthusiastic, keep your tone pleasant and look at them as you talk. Do not move your body or hands too much or look here and there. And see if the person interviewing you reciprocates with similar positive gestures.

Conversely, if you think the interviewer is trying to intimidate you with overly aggressive gestures, such as a loud voice, cutting you off, staring at you or shaking his head, remain calm. It may be a test of your ability to respond to pressure. Don’t give in to the temptation of frowning, leaning back, crossing your arms and sulking. Practise controlling your emotions by rehearsing a difficult interview with a friend or family member. At the end of it all, if you sense that the person you’re meeting is just not in the right frame of mind, there is nothing you can really do, except hope that they do their job without bias.

Common positive non-verbal cues

• A firm, enthusiastic handshake.
• Steady eye contact.
• Leaning forward to listen attentively.
• Smiling or nodding when you make an important point.
• Asking questions that give you an easy way out.
• Allowing you enough time to make your case for joining the company.
• Walking you to the door and shaking hands in full view of other colleagues/candidates.

Common negative non-verbal cues

• Lack of enthusiasm or courtesy in the initial greeting.
• Sitting with arms crossed.
• Yawning or rubbing one’s eyes.
• Glancing repeatedly at the exit, the floor, wristwatch, phone, etc..
• Not bothering to read your CV or documents properly.
• Impatient gestures such as fidgeting, tapping one’s pen on the desk, shaking one’s legs .
• Terminating the interview without touching on key points.

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