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Top interviewing tips: Part 7 – How to manage non-verbal communication

Lisa Jobson

Top interviewing tips from Lisa Jobson, director of talent at Harvey Nash.

  • Non-verbal behaviours make up a large percentage of our daily interpersonal communication, so learning how to read the non-verbal signals of other people will enhance your own ability to communicate effectively and respond accordingly.
  • Before you can improve your non-verbal communication skills, you need to figure out what you're doing right and where there is room for improvement. The best way to do this is to observe yourself in action by videoing a conversation between you and a partner. When you watch the recording, focus on any discrepancies between your verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Non-verbal signals to pay attention to are things such as eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements and facial expressions and tone of voice.
  • Concentrate on your tone of voice when speaking as it conveys a wealth of information, ranging from enthusiasm to disinterest to anger. Start noticing how your tone of voice affects how others respond to you and try using tone of voice to emphasise ideas that you want to communicate.
  • Use good eye contact - when people fail to look others in the eye, it can seem as if they are evading or trying to hide something. On the other hand, too much eye contact can seem confrontational or intimidating. Some communication experts recommend intervals of eye contact lasting four to five seconds in order to communication and convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.
  • Facial expressions: Keep your facial expressions positive or thoughtful, as often people are too demonstrative with their facial expressions. If you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable, friendly, warm and approachable.
  • Gestures: Notice your hand movement and placement. Keep your hands in a set position while you're listening and then feel free to gesture with your hands while you're talking. This can help you make a point, but just don't get overzealous. Also head nods, communicate positive reinforcement to interviewers and indicate that you are listening.
  • Look for incongruent behaviours where someone's words do not match their non-verbal behaviours. For example, someone might tell you they are happy while frowning and staring at the ground.
  • Look at signals as a group, as a single gesture can mean any number of things or maybe even nothing at all. The key to accurately reading non-verbal behaviour is to look for groups of signals that reinforce a common point.
  • Always consider the context of the situation in which the communication occurs. Some situations require more formal behaviours that might be interpreted very differently in any other setting.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions and clarify a point if you are confused about non-verbal signals and mixed messages the interviewer is demonstrating.

More top interviewing tips from Lisa Jobson >>.


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