Tips for Non Verbal Communications in Interview

Actions definitely speak louder than words. They speak much louder when you are being interviewed. The dreadful part is, interviewers assiduously note movements and use gathered data to analyse your personality. This decides whether or not you get employed. High qualifications, experience are fine but exist on paper. Non-verbal communications brings interviews to life.

Understanding non-verbal communications
Colloquially it is called ‘Body Language.’ The human body is designed to react and respond to internal and external stimuli. These reactions occur unaware to a person. Blinking eye, gasping, facial flush, twitching fingers and lips, shaking foot, avoiding direct gaze are various ways a body communicates upon stimulus. Human resource experts utilize these gestures for personality analysis. Anyone who can control these actions will emerge as an ace in interviews.

Efficacy of non-verbal communications
Psychologists, social scientists and HR policy makers remain divided over accuracy of gauging a person using non-verbal communications. They refuse to agree on several key issues. Prime among these is culture. People of various cultures react differently to the same stimuli. The other point of conflict is individual personality: while someone can remain calm while watching a grisly scene on TV, another might faint or flee while yet others would enjoy. Controlled reaction remains the main bone of contention between experts. Some believe that reactions cannot be feigned. Others claim, a small degree of training helps individuals to modulate responses.

Knowing the difference
Psychologists, behavioural scientists, HR departments in developed countries have evolved own methods of non-verbal testing for applicants. These are based on intense understanding of cultures, traditions, religious beliefs, socio-economic conditions, geography, education and myriad parameters. This leaves little or space for personal prejudices. Yet, these are considered insufficient.

In India, gauging a person by non-verbal communications can best be described as farcical and sham. Human resource officials in India try imitate foreign counterparts. They lack sufficient knowledge on cultural differences and traditions peculiar to a diverse nation like India. Their naiveté runs deep enough to judge every job applicant with a common yardstick. Personal perceptions and prejudices run high in India. They tend to taint proper perception and cause faulty assessment of applicants by non-verbal skills. Perfect candidates for jobs can get rejected merely because an interviewer lacks proper skills to assess non-verbal communications.

Point to remember
Interviewers in India resort to rather archaic, rudimentary methods for assessment of a person through non-verbal communications. This affords some degree of protection to job applicants. Thanks to feigned knowledge of interviewers, it is easy to trick and tweak perceptions, with little effort.

Direct eye contact
Keep contact with eyes of your interviewers. A direct, frank gaze is sufficient. Not meeting the fixed gaze is considered as a sign of dishonesty, for reasons best known to self-styled Indian HR experts. Wearing cosmetic lenses or clear glasses to an interview helps overcome this problem of fixed, absurd and comedic custom of gazing into one-another’s eyes.

Seating posture
The clothes you wear decide your seating posture. But Indian HR experts never consider this. A person wearing tighter trousers will sit upright and may appear tense. Those with proper fitting clothes appear deceptively relaxed. Wear simple and proper sized clothes to an interview for proper posture. Sitting too stiff is sign of nervousness. Relaxed posture indicates complacence. Strike a balance between the two. Never place your hands on the interviewer’s desk, instead place them on your thighs. It means nothing but untrained Indian HR experts will mark that against you.

Avoid fidgeting
Fidgeting with a pen, paper, hair is considered impolite and a sign of nervousness. And Indian HR experts fall hook-line-and-sinker to read a lot in this rather innocuous act. Fidgeting is not necessarily a sign of brain ill at ease. It could be a mere habit developed during childhood and of no significance. Yet, interviewers will rate you negatively for fidgeting. Avoid this reflex impulse at all costs.

Stiff spine and neck
You are there for a job interview and not a medical check-up. Discard any false notions you have about keeping chin upright and spine stiff to suit some vague description about proper posture for an interview. Sit as normally as you would. You can bend your spine as long as you are comfortable and the posture is not too casual.

Everyone wants pleasant, friendly staff. Most interviewees smile at the interviewer or at least wear a fake one. You are not there to advertise your favourite toothpaste or boast your dental hygiene. A constant smile makes you look sheepish, particularly when a serious issue such as your work experience or salary is up for discussion. Do not smile unless absolutely needed; retain your normal facial expression.

Shaking hands with interviewer
Avoid doing so unless the interviewer proffers a hand for shake. Some interviewers falsely believe that a cold hand indicates nervousness. Such ill-informed HR officers will extend a handshake to gauge your temperature. They neglect the fact that waiting for an interview in air conditioned room can cause hands to get colder. Ensure your hands are dry and do not bear traces of perspiration. If forced to shake hands, do so with casual firmness and nothing more.

Exhibiting interest
Showing too much interest in a company’s background or other issues brought up by the interviewer is not essential. Show basic interest without worrying much about detail. Too many details tend to confuse an interviewee and puzzlement will reflect on your face. Procuring some knowledge about the company before an interview helps overcome this.

General appearance
This is something everyone pays attention to. Nobody appears for an interview without proper grooming. External appearances do play a major role. Over dressing is a common mistake by Indians. Avoid wearing a tie, blazer or suit unless merited. Smart formals are sufficient. Ties and jackets make you sweat and you could end up with body odour before entering the interviewer’s room. Perspiration leaves wet patches on clothes which make unseemly sight for interviewers. Women can wear any attire, since they have endless choices of garments.

Reflex actions
Yawning, cough, sneezing are reflex actions and cannot be really stopped. Cover your mouth if you yawn, cough or sneeze and offer a short verbal apology. Suppressing these reflex actions make you look miserable and imparts adverse impression. Farting or passing air is an absolute no-no. Burping, belching is considered rude, so ensure you have meals well before the interview.

It all boils down to….
Simply be yourself at any interview. Prepare yourself for every non technical question. Feigning body language or controlling non-verbal communications serves little or no purpose. Employers look for people capable of delivering results. Exhibiting good manners and hygiene is great as long as you do not overdo anything. Finally, appear confident but not foolhardy to the interviewer.

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Rahul Devkar

Rahul Devkar - Personality Development Trainer and Content writer, loves to write on various topics including Soft Skill Development, Leadership Qualities and Business Ethics. For more: Click here.

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