While the statistic ranges from 93 percent to 55 percent, the fact remains that a significant part of our communication has nothing to do with our words. Nonverbal communication makes up an important part of the message we send to others, either intentionally or unintentionally. And while most job seekers understand the basics of proper body language (firm handshake, good eye contact, posture), there are some more subtle cues you can look for. As someone interviewing potential candidates, knowing what to look for and how to interpret in terms of nonverbal cues can give you extra insight as you make your choices.

Here are some tips for interpreting nonverbal cues:

  • Take care with false cues: Even the most competent candidate can feel nervous and stressed during an interview; take shyness and the occasional fumble with a grain of salt.
    • Watch out for mirroring or matching behavior as well (both sitting with one leg crossed, leaning in the same direction, etc.): This fosters an air of trust, and a savvy candidate may use this technique to gain trust he wouldn’t otherwise earn.
  • The basics: As mentioned above, do pay attention to whether or not the candidate has good eye contact, a firm handshake, and good posture — either too rigid or too slouched will tell you something about the candidate and his attitude.
    • Even attention to personal grooming and dress give you nonverbal cues as to how seriously he takes himself and the interview: Is he dressed to impress and does the clothing fit right/look neat and clean? All of these little, important gestures give you insight into the candidate.
  • Get the person moving: Give a tour around the office and see how she reacts to meeting staff members of varying levels. This lets you see how the candidate acts on her feet.  How does she respond to meeting a supervisor? An administrative assistant? A potential fellow co-worker? Does she make them feel at ease? Does she treat anybody differently (dismissive/overly deferential) depending on their position? Did she ask any questions or seem interested in learning more?
    • If it’s a leadership position, did she seem to demonstrate authority and command (as opposed to demand) respect? If it’s sales, would others like to engage with this person?
  • Listen and watch responses: When you ask the candidate questions, how does he respond? Does he maintain that eye contact with you or look all around the room? Are answer succinct and to the point or rambling and searching for a response? What’s the tone of voice, clear and confident, soft and mumbling, or even loud and aggressive? Watch his face carefully to see how he responds to certain questions — do they go along with his words or contradict them?

As you interview a candidate, you ask certain questions and look for certain answers based on the position you want to fill. But remember that someone may have excellent experience and qualifications, yet the nonverbal cues scream that this person will not fit well with your company. Take those cues seriously — they may tell you more about the candidate than any cover letter or resume. For help in vetting your next candidate, reach out to our experienced recruiting team at PrideStaff Thousand Oaks today!

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