Things You Don’t Say Could Get You Hired or Fired

Letting your eyes wander, poor posture, and a weak handshake are just a few subtle mistakes that can spoil your success at a job interview. Even though you may be unaware of these bad habits, interviewers who pick up on these negative nonverbal forms of communication are likely not to hire you for a job.

Forms of nonverbal communication-gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact, can be judged by employers as much, if not more harshly than verbal responses during an interview. That is why it is so important to be aware of these nonverbal cues when interviewing-they could be the deciding factor whether you are hired, or someone else is.

Heather Krasma, author of Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service, offers this advice, “The most important idea is to project confidence and professionalism.” It speaks volumes more when you can express this through your actions rather than words to employers.

Here are more helpful tips found in Krasma’s book to ensure positive, suitable, and courteous nonverbal communication while interviewing:

Handshake: A firm handshake is considered a sign of confidence. Give a firm, but not crushing squeeze and shake the person’s hand up and down slightly, once. If you have sweaty hands, be sure to dry them before your interview.

Posture/Physical Distance: When sitting in a chair, sit up straight or lean forward slightly; never slouch. Keep both feet on the floor (men) or cross feet at the ankles (women). When standing near a person, about three feet away from them is standard in the Unites States. Standing too close to others can make them feel uncomfortable.

Arms and Hands: You can “talk with your hands” to a certain extent, but do not do so to the point of distracting the interviewer. Do not cross your arms, this looks defensive, instead, try to have an open posture. Do not fidget, play with your hair, bite your nails, etc…

Eye Contact: Look the person who is interviewing you in the eyes. Looking down or away gives the message of not being confident or being confused. Do not stare intensely, just look at the interviewer in the eye as much as possible.

Facial Expression: Smiling is the most important way of showing that you are friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic about the possible job position. If all else fails, remember to smile. A lack of facial expression can be a major barrier to employment!

In addition to these tips, Krasna gives international job seekers a reminder, "Nonverbal communication is quite culturally defined. If you are interviewing across cultures, be sure to know what is expected of you." Lastly, those that are aware of their nonverbal expressions of communication and can master selective control over these cues will ultimately be the ones that are hired for the job.

Caitlin Coffee ‘11

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