7 Nonverbal Mistakes To Avoid Making During Job Interviews

November 16, 2016

istock_000021080638medium_150Now that you know how reading the nonverbal cues of hiring managers can improve your chances of job interview success, this week I’ve focused on the nonverbal mistakes (your own) to avoid during interviews.

While the most important aspect of the interview should be the content of your answers, the interaction you have with the hiring manager is also important, even the nonverbal communication. Good nonverbal communication can help you establish a positive connection, whereas bad/strange nonverbal communication can be, well, odd and sometimes even a little unsettling if you’re the hiring manager.

Here are seven nonverbal mistakes to avoid during your next job interview:

Unusual handshake. A “limp fish” handshake (too soft) can signify insecurity, while a “handshake of steel” (too hard) can project arrogance. A handshake lasting way too long tells hiring managers you might be trying overly hard to impress them and that you might stretch the truth about your accomplishments, knowledge or experience.

Poor or too much eye contact. Poor eye contact can signify that you aren’t interested in the position. At the other end of the spectrum, too much eye contact can be intimidating and turn the interview into a stare down.

Out of control gestures. These include constantly tapping a foot, shaking a leg, clicking a pen or too many hand and arm gestures – and they take attention away from you. I once interviewed a woman who kept using big arm gestures while she talked. She knocked over both our cups of coffee… and the interview went downhill from there.

Lack of facial expression. Humans have emotions, so when you don’t smile or emote any type of positive facial expression during an interview, it can be a turnoff for hiring managers.

Poor posture. Leaning back and crossing your arms and/or legs can come across as either not interested in the discussion or as overly confident or arrogant.

Odd attire. Clothing can have a negative impact if they’re inconsistent with the position or the company culture. I once interviewed a man for a marketing manager position at a conservative health-care company who came to the interview dressed like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” His unbuttoned shirt, exposed hairy chest and loads of necklaces didn’t fit the position, company or industry.

Clearing throat. While you might consider this verbal communication, I’m including it on the list. For some people, clearing their throat can be a habit that gets worse when they’re nervous. During job interviews, it can be distracting to the hiring manager. Try drinking some warm tea with honey in it before your interview to see if it helps soothe your throat or have a glass of water handy during the interview. Then when you feel a need to clear your throat, drink a sip of water instead.

Most managers don’t make hiring decisions based solely on a candidate’s nonverbal communication, but they do use the cues to help them determine if a candidate will be a good cultural fit. To increase your chances of interview success, be consciously aware of your nonverbal communication and avoid these seven mistakes.

~ Lisa Quast

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