The Insider's Guide To Job Search


 
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Body Language In An Interview: Reading The Signs

by Kevin T. Buckley, CPC

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Beyond the words you say in an interview are the non-verbal signals you are sending to the interviewer. These come collectively under the heading of Body Language.

You can communicate many different attitudes and feelings through non-verbal signals. You can also pick up signs of agreement or disagreement from the interviewer.

It can be misleading to interpret a single sign as having a definite interpretation. Look for two or more signs and take the context into consideration.

Happiness or satisfaction:
Smiling, enlarged pupils, relaxed posture, serene facial expression, free, unrestrained movement

Unhappiness or dissatisfaction:
Frowning, constricted pupils, tense posture, pursed lips, furrowed brow, flared nostrils, rigid body, lack of movement or nervous movement

Agreement:
Nodding, winking, smiling, relaxation following concentration, continuation of serene eye contact

Disagreement:
Shaking the head from side-to-side, frowning, crossing the arms, pursing the lips, drumming the fingers, tapping a pen or pencil

Interest or receptiveness:
Serene eye contact, stillness of body, even breathing, arms folded loosely over lower body

Disinterest or distraction:
Looking away, hunched shoulders, arms folded on chest, face placid, vacant eyes, sighing, finger drumming or desk tapping

Anger or irritation:
Accentuated breathing, intense aggressive eye contact, arms folded on chest, face taut, clenched fists, hands gripping desktop

Disbelief:
One raised eyebrow, crooked smile, head shaking side to side, tilted head

Surprise:
Two raised eyebrows, enlarged pupils, sudden attention directed to speaker

Decision-making in progress:
Eyes directed to the ceiling, blinking rapidly, turning away and looking steadily at nothing, standing and walking back and forth

Decision has been made:
Deep breath followed by a sigh and relaxation, end of facial tension, followed by smiling or earnest eye contact

Superior status:
Takes central spot in meetings, speaks without seeking permission, initiates and terminates most transactions, exhibits dominant behaviour - standing taller in confrontations, pats people on the back.

Subordinate status:
Takes peripheral spot in meetings, seeks permission before speaking, waits for dominant individual to initiate or terminate most transactions, exhibits submissive behaviour - curling shoulders forward in confrontations, seeks pats on the back

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