Though rare, nothing compares with the sharp relief of knowing beyond a reasonable doubt that you’ve nailed a job interview.
An ‘expect to hear from us soon’, a teary slow clap from your soon-to-be co-workers as you exit the premises, or even just a firm pat on the shoulder.
Sadly, if they’re at all competent, recruiters have to keep an open mind during the hiring process, which means the strongest and weakest candidates are left in the dark to some degree or another.
But you’re in luck because, for the time being, the majority of hiring managers are human. And humans are wired against keeping their intentions wholly unintelligible.
In this exploration of human kinetic techniques, we examine the subtle body bellwethers that signal positive social interactions.
“Does the interviewer mimic your physical gestures (arm movements and the like) as you make them? If so, he or she may “feel you’re a kindred spirit,” explained management consultant and communications coach, Carol Kinsey Goman.
“In this case, you’re likely to get the person’s stamp of approval.”
The body language cues to watch for
Even in the instances where a hiring manager sets out to hide their general impression from applicants, their body language will intimate a spectrum of approval.
If a candidate is worth pursuing, a certain seriousness has to be advertised on the recruiter’s behalf.
If an interview is going well, you might notice them asking for further clarification of points made on your resume. You might notice your responses are frequently greeted with wide eyes and a tilted head. These are instructive of listener engagement.
“Is the interviewer leaning slightly forward and toward you? Good sign again,” Goman said.
“Does the interviewer show the palms of their hands as they speak to you? At the very least, you can be confident they’re being candid with you as they speak.”
If the interviewer is pleased with your responses, they will be quick to confirm with verbal ques. Conversely, if your responses are met with beats of silence (however brief) this might be because they are not satisfied with what you are saying.
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Our posture, gestures, movements, or facial expressions can shape our reputations. Body language matters, especially in interviews,” Goman said.
Be mindful of the posture of your interviewer. Folded arms are a good indicator of a listener who is either defensive or withholding. The same is basically true of intermittent eye contact.
If you notice the interviewer tapping their foot frantically, or fidgeting with their pen, this may mean you’re speaking for too long. Be sure not to monopolise the conversation.
Conversely, if the recruiter returns your gaze while you’re are speaking, they are interested in what you have to say. You want to look for a general vulnerability that signals comfort and assent.
Your resume has about six seconds to capture a recruiter so much of the leg work has to be done in person.
If an interview composed of smiles, open animations, positive physical effects (nodding, frequent shoulder movement, open palms) precedes the slightest parting affirmation of a job well done, you’re more than likely in the running.
“Is the interviewer’s entire body oriented toward you — their legs, shoulders, hips and torso?” asked Goman. “If the answer is yes, you have a shot.”
Trust a move
There are also things candidates can do to facilitate a successful correspondence with hiring managers.
As proven in study after study, what you say and how you say it matters very little if your animations suggest insecurity. There’s some wiggle room here, given a nervous candidate is a candidate that cares, but most firms want a candidate who cares enough to be prepared to meet pressure head-on.
“Most of us are guilty of fidgeting occasionally. Candidates are expected to be nervous during an interview. Paying too much attention to nervous tics can lead us astray. If candidates play with their pen during an interview it doesn’t mean they’re neurotic or unsure of themselves in general. But, rude tics are harder to excuse,” Workable reports.
“Sitting on a chair’s edge and leaning forward is usually positive body language. It shows that candidates are eager and interested in what’s being said. But, if a candidate intrudes in your personal space by coming too close, it’s not a good sign. Leaning back is usually negative. If you see a candidate leaning back suddenly, they may be getting defensive.”
This is a delicate tight rope. Conveying authority too deliberately can have a reverse effect if done in excess.
For instance, a natural flow of arm and shoulder gestures can be a sign of confidence, however, too many arm gestures imply internal discomfort, and failing to move both shoulders in sync is a common indicator of dishonesty. The same goes for insufficient eye contact.
Things you can do to make a good impression
You don’t have to keep a rigid checklist in your head of things not to do before an interview. But here are some handy things to keep in mind according to Dr. Michael Levine, a urological surgeon with Advanced Urology Centers of New York.
During a health crisis, Dr. Levine has to advertise a rapport that makes clients feel at ease. His methods apply just as easily, however, to any scenario.
1. Avoid looking at the clock (or your watch). It can come across very rudely and makes you look like you have somewhere better to be.
2. Relax your face. “Smile often, keep your gaze soft and make eye contact (but don’t stare). If you feel your eyebrows knitting together or your lips tightening, slowly take a deep breath to soften your expression,” Dr Levine said.
3. Lean forward. “This helps you stay engaged and conveys genuine interest. But be respectful of their space by not leaning or standing too close,” Dr Levine added.
You can also focus on what the interviewer is saying, answer each question as honestly as you can, and remember that you’re an asset that has to be convinced just as much as the hiring manager to consider a partnership.
If all of those bullet points are adhered to, you won’t check your phone incessantly, fidget, break eye contact, or display closed-off body language.
“Candidate experience greatly depends on an interviewer’s body language. Positive body language can make candidates relax and open up. Negative body language can spark defensive and reserved reactions. Try not to slouch or give in to nervous tics. Be aware of conscious or unconscious mistakes during interviews to preserve a strong employer brand and positive candidate experience,” Workable concluded.
And it’s important to remember not to freak out if you haven’t heard back from a recruiter after two weeks. According to a massive 2019 State of the Recruiter survey from Monster.com, the average amount of time it takes for hiring managers to get back to employees is a month.
This article was written by CW Headley and originally published on The Ladders.