News And Advice

Insights, tips and news for job seekers and employers.

Listen with Your Eyes – Nonverbal Cues to Find the Right Candidate

It’s not just what a job-seeker says in an interview that can determine whether or not you choose to hire him. There’s a whole range of nonverbal communications that can help you make a qualified hiring decision. 

Everyone knows about the all-important “first impression”. There’s a reason for this–a lot of information about a candidate gets communicated within the first few minutes of the interview. What is the applicant wearing? What kind of handshake does he offer? How does he sit in the chair opposite you? What about facial expressions and eye contact?

Each of these can speak volumes. Your job is to “listen with your eyes”.

Start with appearance.  Clearly, a job-seeker who’s well-groomed and well-dressed, with a tasteful amount of make-up, perfume and jewelry, is preferable to someone coming in with scuffed shoes and dirty fingernails. A person who looks professional indicates a healthy degree of pride and self-esteem. Sloppy dress indicates the opposite.

How does the job-seeker’s handshake feel? A firm, dry handshake suggests confidence and the wish to convey a positive impression. But not too firm, experts say. An excessively strong handshake may indicate unwelcome aggressiveness.

Take note of the applicant’s posture. Does he appear to sit comfortably and upright in the chair? This is a sign of confidence and self-assurance, as opposed to a person who slouches or otherwise looks sloppy in the chair. Most likely this individual has a negative self-image and low self-esteem. Watch out.

During the interview, keep a close eye on the applicant’s facial expressions. Do they match what he or she is saying? If not, it may suggest a person given to exaggerations or outright lies–true danger signals. The same goes for eye contact: beware the person whose eyes roam the room while you’re talking. He may be lacking self-confidence or not even care about how he comes across. The other extreme–prolonged eye contact with the interviewer that doesn’t waver–also conveys a negative impression of someone who might be overly aggressive.

Finally, how a person answers your questions offers important nonverbal clues. Ideally, the candidate will respond succinctly and in a clear voice. Someone who mumbles or speaks in a whisper is not only a poor communicator, but a person who may lack initiative or confidence in the workplace.

By keeping all these nonverbal cues in mind, you can determine a great deal about a job candidate in the brief time it takes for him to enter your office and take a seat. Other important details will emerge during the interview, factors that can help you determine whether or not to move ahead. You just have to listen with your eyes.

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