Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Non-Verbal Communication is Critical to Interview Success

I read a recent article on CareerBuilder about the most common interview mistakes. According to a survey of hiring managers, these are the errors job seekers make most often in an interview:

Answering a cell phone or sending a text - 77%
Appearing disinterested - 75%
Dressing inappropriately - 72%
Appearing arrogant - 72%
Talking negatively about current or previous employers - 67%
Chewing gum - 63%

It was interesting to me that of these top 6 mistakes, 4 of the errors are based in non-verbal communication. As job seekers, we often focus so much on what we are going to say in an interview that we neglect to think about how we say it or how we look when we say it. Non-verbal communication is much more than facial expressions. Let's look at the 5 most important types of non-verbal communication and how each one can positively - or negatively - affect your performance in your next job interview.

Facial Expressions
The same message can take on vastly different meaning dependent upon the facial expression that accompanies the message. A genuine smile conveys that you are friendly, interested, and engaged in the interview.

Posture and Body Language
Posture can also convey confidence and enthusiasm. Sit up straight, hold your shoulders back, and lean into the conversation with your entire body to convey interest. Hold your head up high and stand up straight when you walk into a room to convey confidence. Be aware of nervous habits or ticks such as shaking your leg or cracking your knuckles and try to avoid them during the interview.

Once again, the tone of voice you use can be the difference between sounding enthusiastic or disinterested and arrogant or confident. Speak up, speak clearly, and vary the tone of your voice to keep your interviewer engaged in the conversation.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is critical to making a connection with someone - especially an interviewer who is trying to determine if you will make a valuable addition to their team. Direct eye contact can convey confidence and honesty. Avoiding eye contact erodes your impression of self-confidence and makes it difficult for the interviewer to trust you. Eye contact should be natural and comfortable, do not stare.

There is much to say about dressing for interview success. For a start, try this blog post to read about some common fashion mistakes. However, as a rule you should be dressed professionally, at the appropriate level, and in clothes that are freshly pressed, clean, and neat. Your appearance needs to show that you will fit right into the company and should not be memorable at the end of the day.

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