Let’s assume you had a great interview. You answered all the questions in a comprehensive and professional way. You would give yourself a score of 90 or better. Then you get the call that they have chosen someone else. What went wrong? There are a lot of reasons that has nothing to do with you (like the boss’s son-in-law getting the job). But there are behaviors that you may not be aware that can diminish your candidacy. They’re called “non-verbal blunders”. Many are unconscious, avoidable, but could negatively affect your results.
- Weak or clammy handshake– Usually not critical, but it’s a feeble beginning. You want to project confidence, vigor, and a positive attitude, not an insecure doubter. Introverts may need some practice with initial meeting preparation.
- Eye rolling – A sign of disbelief or hearing something you don’t want to hear. It could be information about hours, pay, vacation, working conditions or something you find distasteful. Try to remain neutral, then ask questions for clarification.
- Crossing of arms – This position may be comfortable for you, but it projects a defensive pose, or one of resistance. You want to project that you are open to new ideas, so keep your body language open and responsive, rather than closed and resisting.
- Slouching or stiff posture– Being too casual or too formal puts hiring managers off. It can demonstrate disinterest or rigidity. Be as natural as you can, while showing attentiveness with a listening attitude.
- Jiggling your leg during a discussion – Nervous tension is sometime demonstrated in strange ways. Jiggling your leg is very distracting for the hiring manager who may read it as a desire for you to get out of the interview as quickly as possible.
- Lack of eye contact – Ever talk with someone who won’t look you in the eye. People who lie are prone to look away when talking. Good eye contact shows you are interested and listening to what’s being said.
- Head shake says “no”– It’s better to slightly nod your head up and down than shake it side to side. A nod indicates you understand or agree. A head shake is the opposite. A slight nod encourages the hiring manager to continue to talk about the subject.
- Checking your watch – This non-verbal is very rude. It says that you are bored or have a more important engagement to get to. This non-verbal is one of the most serious blunders, especially if the interviewer asks, “Do you have somewhere else to go?”
- Interrupting – If done repeatedly, your interview will be short. Terrific interviews tend to be expansive discussions whereby each party asks and answers questions of mutual interest. Interruptions stop the flow of information and negatively disrupts the interaction.
Non-verbal errors are easy to fix once you’re aware of them. Ask a family member or friend if they have noticed these types of behavior. You may be surprised by their observations. Practice can make a big difference in avoiding non-verbal blunders.
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