Have you ever read the old adage that communication is 93% non-verbal and just 7% verbal?

It’s actually a bit inaccurate (body language accounts for 55% of all communication) but that still means we can learn a lot about candidates from their body language in an interview.

We take a look at some of the signs to look out for.

What’s your body language?

Whilst body language can suggest a great deal about a person, it should never be used in isolation. Body language can suggest particular traits or attributes but because of many other factors that can be involved, these aren’t necessarily 100% true. It should also be remembered that YOUR body language as an interviewer can affect the candidate’s. Positive body language can make candidates relax and open up. Negative body language can spark defensive and reserved reactions. Used alongside other factors however, body language is an interesting and powerful way of assessing a candidate alongside other factors such as their skills, qualifications and experience.

Body posture

A candidate’s posture tells you a lot. Slouching is a real red flag. It not only shows a lack of respect for the interviewer(s), it also signifies a lack of self-confidence. Sitting on a chair’s edge however and leaning forward is generally seen as a positive signal, showing that the candidate is eager and interested in what is being said. Leaning back during an interview can sometimes signal that a candidate is being defensive.

It’s also worth looking at whether a candidate’s body posture tallies with what they are saying. For example, if a candidate is describing an experience with very descriptive and emotive words but remain very stiff and inexpressive physically, if could suggest the candidate is uncertain or even lying.

Arm gestures

Arm gestures are used by lots of people to add emphasis to what they are saying. There is a thin line however between being expressive and being dramatic. That means unless you are hiring someone who’s role needs them to be very expressive, excessive arm gestures can be seen as somewhat off putting.

Finger pointing is another gesture to look out for. Excessive finger pointing or chopping movements can indicate someone with an authoritative nature. Whilst this could be a positive trait in some jobs, for roles that require working well within a team, it could prove problematic.

Crossing arms is a common gesture and can mean many things, including being insecure and defensive, two feelings that many candidates will naturally feel during an interview situation so it isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ signal. Unfolding their arms during the interview is a good sign that they are more relaxed and engaging well with you as an interviewer.

Eye contact

It’s often said that eyes are the windows of the soul. Whilst that may or may not be true, what is clear is that a candidate’s eyes tell you a lot about themselves. A candidate who maintains a good level of eye contact will comes across as honest and confident. However, it’s a fine line as too much or too little eye contact can come across as negative. Too little eye contact can come across as shy and distancing, whereas too much eye contact can be a little rude of even aggressive.

One interesting thing to note is that despite the popular belief that people who are lying make very little or no eye contact, the opposite is actually true. People who are lying tend to make more eye contact.

The handshake

One of the most common body language signs, a strong handshake signifies confidence whereas a weak handshake can tend to signify shyness of nerves. However, candidates that have a handshake that is a little too strong can signify aggressiveness.

One thing that is universally true though is that whatever the handshake, it’s always much better if it comes with a smile.

King Recruit is a Management & Executive Recruitment proposition based in the Southwest. We pride ourselves on a 98% fill rate on exclusive assignments.

Our Vision: “To enhance the growth of careers and business with strategic recruitment excellence” With proven expertise in Management & Executive Recruitment, Talent Acquisition and Southwest business, our passion is working with strategic, career minded professionals and dynamic businesses.

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