Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Rejecting a Job Candidate Because of Body Language

Nonverbal cues say a lot, as seasoned interviewers know. But what cues are the most telling?

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Actions Speak

A survey conducted by staffing firm OfficeTeam asked senior managers the question, “On a scale of one (not much) to five (a lot), how much do the following nonverbal cues tell you about a candidate during an interview?”

Respondents identified eye contact as the most telling nonverbal cue when meeting with job candidates, rating it a 4.41 on a scale of one to five (with five indicating the highest significance). This was followed by both posture and handshake, which tied at 4.26.

Here’s the complete list:

Eye contact 4.41
Posture 4.26
Handshake 4.26
Hand gestures 4.15
Facial expressions 4.14
Fidgeting/habitual movements 4.09

Decisions Made

Although the survey doesn’t explore the impact of nonverbal cues, including whether a candidate was rejected because of any of these, it’s safe to make a few assumptions.

Would you hire a candidate who never makes eye contact? The person interviewing for a sales position who has a cold, limp handshake, what about him?

Then there’s the candidate who smirks and scowls his way through the interview. Perhaps he’s rivaled only by the woman who keeps tapping her pen on your desk.

On Your Side

The same nonverbal cues apply to everyone, including recruiters and hiring managers.

With this in mind, and because a candidate is also interviewing you, Recruiting Daily Advisor shares these tips for putting your best body language forward during interviews from OfficeTeam:

  • Get hands-on. Aim for a handshake that’s firm, but doesn’t crush the recipient. Limit the duration to a few seconds.
  • Break out of that slump. Sit up straight and lean forward slightly to show engagement and confidence.
  • Put on a happy face. A genuine smile demonstrates warmth and enthusiasm.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize. Maintain regular eye contact during the meeting, but look away occasionally. Staring may be perceived as aggressive.
  • Don’t fidget. Resist the urge to shake your legs, tap your fingers or twirl your pen. It’s fine to use hand gestures, as long as they’re not distracting. Keep your arms uncrossed to appear more open and receptive.