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Career Corner
Body Language Can Bury You In the Job Interview

Marcia Robinson -- If you are job hunting, you should know that hiring managers and interviewers spend a lot of time interpreting body language in the job interview. What does your wordless message say about you as a candidate?

A UCLA study showed that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Author, Alton Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, states that the impact of a message is 7% verbal, 38 % percent vocal, i.e., volume, pitch, rhythm, etc., and 55% is about body movement, mostly in the form of facial expressions.

If you are job hunting, you should know that hiring managers and interviewers spend a lot of time interpreting body language in the job interview. Some interviewers are actually masters at the body-language game. They can spot fear through hunched shoulders, rapid or really slow speech and disinterest in a job seeker’s slouch.

Here are some of the body language issues that could really bury you in the job interview:

-- Not making eye contact with the recruiter or interviewer or looking only at one interviewer if you are in a panel interview.
-- A weak handshake. Remember, palm to palm contact is important. A weak handshake might demonstrate a lack of confidence.
-- Slouching or hanging over the arm of the chair might tell your interviewer that you don’t really care to be there. On the other hand, leaning back in a matter-of-fact way might indicate some arrogance.
-- Gesticulating wildly and relying on your hands to do all the talking. Resting your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair is good.
-- Fidgeting with tight or ill fitting clothing such as trying to close the gap between buttons on a tight blouse or pulling down uncomfortable pants.
-- Scratching head, hair, skin, or other body parts can certainly indicate nervousness, but might hint at some other issues too.

These body language no-no’s can be a real turn off to recruiters in the job interview. The worse part is that the job seekers may not even be aware of how they are missing opportunities.

Job seekers should create a quick checklist with these and other points and practice the job interview with someone who will critique them honestly. Another way to check on your body language turn-offs is to set up a camera to record your movements. Work on eliminating any negative messages you might be transmitting through your body language.

As you watch your own body language and movements in the job interview, also watch those of the recruiter.

--Is your panel interviewer at the end of the table falling asleep?
--Is anyone yawning from your stories?
--Is the interviewer texting under table?
--Are they working on other projects?
--Are they eating during the phone interview?
--Are they taking calls that they did not say would be coming in?
--Are they leaving in the middle of the interview again without saying they would?

I have actually seen or heard of recruiters doing all these things in job interviews. Not only is this bad recruiter behavior, and rude to the job seeker, it is also very distracting to an already nervous candidate.

Marcia Robinson has been a Principal at The RayeMartin Group for 10 years. She trains, writes and coaches on workplace, employment and career related issues and earned a MBA with emphasis in HR Management. Robinson provides free career advice and can be contacted via the BullsEyeCareer Blogs.

© 2010 Marcia Robinson

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