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Escape the pitfalls of non-verbal communication


It begins even before you say your first word in an interview. As the interviewer walks towards you to shake your hand, their first opinion of you is already formed. And as you sit waiting to spew out your answers to questions you've prepared for, you are already being judged by your appearance, posture, smile or your nervous look.

As human beings, we have hundreds of different nonverbal ways of communicating. Many of them we do without even realising! The way you fiddle your hands, how you purse your lips, and the way you stand or sit conveys various messages to someone else - namely, the recruiter interviewing you. How are you coming across? What does your body language say about you?

  • What you wear: We could say it a million time - how you dress matters! Your chosen attire, your personal hygiene and your overall look conveys a lot about you as a person, and also plays to an interviewer’s preconceived ideas about you and whether you will fit in their culture. 

  • The handshake: It's your first encounter with the interviewer. She holds out her hand and receives a limp, damp hand in return - not a very promising start, is it? Your handshake should be firm, not bone-crushing, and make sure it’s body temperature (not freezing cold or too hot) and dry (no yucky wet hands, please!) A solid handshake conveys confidence, while a limp one says “I’m not sure I belong here”. 
  • Your Posture: Stand and sit erect. Don’t shuffle on your feet and don’t slouch in your chair. Sit in a position where you can show enthusiasm. Lean forward slightly when the interviewer talks to convey that you are listening. Don’t fidget with your fingers, hair, earrings, or a piece of fabric on your clothes. Don’t drum your fingers, and don’t flail your hands about when you talk like a nervous wreck.
  • Eye Contact: Look the interviewer in the eye. Don’t stare like you're trying to look into her soul, but ensure your eyes meet frequently. Avoid constantly looking around the room while you are talking, because that can convey nervousness or lack of confidence with what is being discussed.

  • Be Confident: There is nothing worse than people playing with their hair, clicking pen tops, tapping feet or unconsciously touching parts of their body - these are signs of not being confident. Although you may be nervous inside, try your best to maintain a cool temperament  and avoid doing things that could be distracting for both you and the recruiter.

Preparing what you have to say is important, but practising how you will say it is imperative. Nonverbal cues or gestures can speak louder than the verbal message you're sending - so you’ve got to be cautious!

For more interview tips click here.