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Non-Verbal Communication Has Power at In-Person Interviews

Non-Verbal Communication Has Power at In-Person Interviews

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By Enid Naranjo, JD
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

Imagine that your academic efforts have been acknowledged, and you have been rewarded with a much-coveted master’s or doctorate degree. You’re happy at your success, and you have thoughtfully crafted a resume, created a digital profile, and completed the requisite job search. Finally, you are invited to an in-person interview.

Start a management degree at American Public University.

But immediately after receiving the invitation, you find yourself in an alternate reality consisting of panic and cold sweat. Long-held issues of doubt and self-confidence arise, consuming your thought processes. Despite it all, you manage to pull yourself together and prepare for the interview.

Through your interactions with the company so far, you have already established a virtual relationship characterized by the protocols of online business communication. Now, you have the opportunity to provide a deeper sense of who you are and why that company should hire you.

You’re ready to provide thoughtful, well-researched answers to the interviewer’s questions. However, what you communicate non-verbally is also very important. Those non-verbal cues add context and give meaning to your narrative.

What Is Non-Verbal Communication?

Non-verbal communication is the way you express your feelings without the use of spoken language. Non-verbal communication includes your:

  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures and other movements
  • Posture
  • Tone and the inflection of your voice
  • General demeanor

These behaviors provide the listener with a more intimate understanding of who you are; they amplify your verbal communication and may extend to deeper levels of human emotional and instinctive nature. To an attentive listener like a job interviewer, non-verbal communication reveals the attitudes that underlie the content of your speech.

Other factors contributing to your non-verbal communication include your grooming, the color of your clothing, the way you carry yourself, and even the fragrance of your cologne or perfume. For instance, if you wear an outfit that is too bright or a scent that is overpowering, that negatively affects how your interviewer remembers you.

Non-Verbal Communication Affects How Your Interviewer Evaluates You as a Potential Employee

The way you present yourself for an in-person interview speaks volumes about your respect for the company, its processes and representatives. Whether you are a man or a woman, issues of culture or gender equality may be brought to bear before you are even seated.

Naturally, in a job interview, conveying confidence is a primary asset. Consider the following tips for before and during your in-person interview:

  • If you’re nervous, take a few deep breaths beforehand. Be aware of the pitch of your voice and the pace of your speech during the interview.
  • Make sure your phone is turned off.
  • Greet your interviewer with a smile and a friendly handshake.
  • When you sit, keep your back straight. Avoid crossing your arms or holding them tightly against your sides.
  • Listen actively and allow your interviewer to finish speaking before you respond.
  • Be aware of your physical distance from your interviewer. Leaning forward slightly conveys a sense of engagement in the conversation, but avoid violating someone’s personal space.

Remember that you want to feel and appear natural, and be mindful of the implicit messages that you convey through your appearance and behavior. Also, be observant of the non-verbal cues coming from your interviewer, such as changes in facial expression or posture.

You are most likely not the only one with the education or skill set needed for the job; there are probably other candidates with more skill and education than you. Consequently, you have to bring something else to the interview to set you apart from the other people seeking to be hired. Certainly, your non-verbal communication has a great impact in this situation and ultimately affects the outcome of your interview.

About the Author

Enid Naranjo is an adjunct instructor in the School of Business at American Public University. She has been teaching online classes in English and Spanish since 2009.

Enid’s academic credentials include a B.A. in history from the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus and a J.D. in law from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. She is a multi-faceted business executive with over 15 years of experience. Enid has worked for several women-led enterprises, including Hispanic Radio Network and Colon Enterprises, Inc. She is an avid small business enthusiast and enjoys providing legal counsel to budding entrepreneurs.

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