Decoding the Interviewer’s Body Language: What Do the Signs Say?

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“Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.”- Deborah Bull

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It’s quite a renowned fact that a multitude of employers all across the globe gauge people by their body language and base their hiring decision on the personality the applicants present.

However, the non-verbal aspect of communication works both ways. Yes, it’s not only a one-sided game of the show. It has to be true, considering the fact that body language accounts for nearly 55% of how we communicate.

So, let me put forth a question to make things way more clear.

Have you ever thought about reading the interviewer’s kinesics?

Of course, he’s the one throwing questions at you and to put it forth bluntly, he’s the one with the authority to hire or reject you. Then why is it necessary?

The Reason
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They key to attaining a common ground with your employer (or potential employer rather) is observing their mannerisms and then accustoming yourself to match them and answering accordingly.

Right from the way they tilt their head to the way they smile, from the way they sit to whether or not they maintain eye contact, you need to observe every single detail.

You can always look forward to positive movements like nodding, tilting the head to one side, leaning forward and maintaining eye-contact, which clearly indicate that the interviewer is quite attentive and interested to know more about you.

However, indicators like fiddling with the nails, hair or the face, yawning, fidgeting or looking at the watch repeatedly, stretching or making inappropriate responses clearly suggest that the person taking your interview is either disconnected or things aren’t going that well.

Hence, by reading these signs you can easily figure out the way you need to alter your answers to make things go in your favor. It sure does prove to be of immense use!

How to Go About It?
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The foremost thing you need to understand is that reading someone’s body language is more of an art than some technical rocket-science. However, it’s imperative for you to know that reading the interviewer’s kinesics is an inexact science in deed, which means that the chances of people misinterpreting signs are equally high. For instance, a person with crossed arms doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s turning defensive. It might be the case that he is feeling tired and needs to rest his arms.

It’s the cluster you need to grasp, not individual movements. This in fact is the most reliable way of decoding the interviewer’s body language.

True mannerism indicators tend to occur in clusters, which clearly proves the point that before reaching a judgment you should notice a group of behavior coming from the face, hand gestures, posture, eyes etc.

Decoding the Eye Contact
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If the interviewer is constantly shifting his eyes, then it indicates that he might still be disconnected and a bit disinterested in the whole process. However, a consistent eye contact suggests attentiveness, curiosity and interest on the employer’s part. It shows that things are going well and you need to answer and present yourself with the same energy and enthusiasm.

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A locked gaze that the hiring manager might throw at you is used as a litmus test for your capability to handle uncomfortable situation under intense pressure. So stay calm and pass it with flying colors. Try breaking an unwavering stare with natural gesticulation while answering questions. This would help you gain some control over the eye contact, while also letting you buy a few seconds to loosen up.

Decoding the Smile
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Although, smiling is generally perceived to be a pleasant facial expression, but smile isn’t necessarily a smile. Many a times, if something seems uncomfortable, the hiring manager might just resort to smiling as a defense mechanism.

Then how to figure out whether it’s a genuine smile or not?

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The answer lies in the interviewer’s eyes. Authentic smiles cause the eyes to squint with crow’s feet wrinkles speckling near the corners, which is a missing attribute in case of a false one.

This way you can easily grasp if you’ve crossed the line in any of your comments and need to make an apology or steer the conversation to a more agreeable topic.

Decoding the Body Posture
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Right from the way they sit, to the way they lean forward or backward, the employer’s posture is worth giving some serious observation. If not a natural sloucher, a slouch indicates boredom and disinterest, whereas a rigid stance might suggest a strong disapproval or disagreement.

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To get a better sense of the meaning, you’ll need to note the interviewer’s posture throughout. In case you’re losing ground, try redirecting the attention on to the hiring manager. Ask about his experience with the company and the reason he joined it. People seem to feel comfortable while talking about themselves, which definitely will lighten up things in your favor.

Decoding the Hand Gestures
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Not those obvious ones like the peace signal or the middle finger, which are ‘emblems’, but hand gestures can suggest a lot of things.

You need to observe what the interviewer is doing with his hand, whether he is keeping them open in a submissive way, keeping them clenched or kneading one with the other.

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Reading these signs will enable you to understand if the interviewer is accepting your views and ideas with openness or whether he is turning defensive on any comment you made which appeared offensive to him.

Though these signs suggest the interviewer’s silent reaction, but panicking and letting paranoia gain control won’t help you, if the tide’s not in your favor. All you need is to stay calm and exhibit your natural confidence. Maintaining a relaxed and open approach will surely help you to work on the pitfalls and subsequently, you’ll ace the interview. Good luck!

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Categories: Interview Tips

About Anshuman Kukreti

Anshuman Kukreti is a professional writer and a keen follower of the global job market. An engineer by qualification and an artist at heart, he writes on various topics relating to employment across the globe.

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