How to use non-verbal communication skills during interviews

Non-verbal communication is something that fresh graduates ignore because they do not even know that it exists. Interestingly, interviewers look for good non-verbal communication skills in individuals they recruit. Do you have good non-verbal skills? You can polish your non-verbal skills with practice and improve your chances of being hired.

Communication skills cannot be defined as how well you talk – communication is about listening, understanding and then responding. It is about ensuring that your message/the correct message goes through. This is true of verbal and written communication. However, communication is not always verbal. There are non-verbal methods of communication too. To sum it up, it is a package, where different elements need to be combined for effective communication to happen.

Most fresh graduates interviewing for their first job learn the right answers and rehearse what to say, before the big day. What they fail to do though is practice non-verbal communication. Have you thought of why the majority of companies prefer to have face-to-face interviews when they can conduct the same over the phone or Skype? It is because they also assess you based on your non-verbal communication skills.

Non-verbal communication skills are crucial but often ignored by candidates applying for a job. Non-verbal communication begins the moment you step into the room. Your body language communicates a lot about your personality.

The art of non-verbal communication

Good communicators apply all their faculties into a conversation – they are there a 100%. Mind, body, soul, what have you – they get fully immersed in the communication. They are not distracted and you can tell, by just reading their body language and facial expressions. Someone, looking at you, with a smile planted on their face, while you communicate, might actually be far away from the scene. Subtle details can give away the person's preoccupation, and you can discern that the conversation isn't going the way you intended it to. This is true of all interactions, not just job interviews.

In order to become a good communicator, you will need to master the art of making non-verbal communication. Successful people use non-verbal communication skills to gain the confidence of others. Good non-verbal communication skills can help you connect better with others because it has an effect on their sub-conscious mind and generally emits a feel good sensation in them. Non-verbal communication is a psychological tool that good communicators use, to capture attention.

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Non-verbal communication signals of a good communicator

Eye contact

Eye contact tops the list when it comes to rating good non-verbal communication practices. Maintaining eye contact during communication indicates that you are truly absorbed in the conversation and the person. You could either be talking or listening – but the way you hold eye contact shows your involvement. It also gives the other person a confidence in you and you come across as honest and sincere.

Don't just stare at the person; instead shift your gaze from one eye to the other, without making the other person awkward.

Fidgety eyes, darting around are a sign of non-involvement. Don't look over the head of the people interviewing you. To make an impression, concentrate on the person you are talking to. Make it a practice to always look into the eyes of the people you communicate with. This sends positive signals.

If there is more than one person across the table maintain eye contact with all of them, looking from one to the other. However, while responding to questions focus most on the person who asked you the question, but look at the others as well. Remember to include everyone across the table, so that you are not talking to just one person.

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Body language

Body language is an indicator that can reflect enthusiasm or the lack of it. Arms crossed across the chest show that you are closing or shutting yourself and/or the other person – it shows resistance and defensiveness and is not a healthy signal. Similarly, tapping your fingers or fiddling with your hair can indicate distraction. How your body reacts during a communication shows if you are edgy and impassive.

The right body language, for instance, is where the arms are by the side or on your lap and the palms are open. This sends a message that you are focused and involved in the conversation, even when you not talking. The human mind is very intuitive and can sense disinterest through subtle actions that we perform. Sit up straight, don't hunch on the table. Don't rest your arms on the table - maintain a good posture to signal positive body language.

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Facial expressions

Flared nostrils, a frown or stern lips can signal anger and disagreement. You might not openly communicate your angst or irritation, but your facial expressions can give away your emotions. When communicating with your interviewers put on a pleasant face – smile, it is the best thing you can do.

A smile is perhaps one of the best non-verbal communications you can have, but a forced smile is ineffectual. A genuine smile in comparison to one given out of courtesy can be differentiated. Let the smile sit on your face, instead of disappearing at the speed of lightening.

Another communication tip that you can practice is to nod in agreement or in acknowledgement when you are being asked a question. Remember to maintain eye contact throughout with the person asking the question. You can begin looking at the others, addressing them, when you respond. Also, throw in a genuine smile that reaches the corners of your mouth to show your participation, but don't overdo it, as you might come across as nervous and frazzled. Strike a balance, because a blank, pokerfaced expression will spell disinterest and kill the conversation. So, remain pleasant.


The handshake is also a non-verbal communication. It must be firm and confident. Smile, make eye contact and give your name. Keep the handshake brief. Stand tall, don't slouch and don't bend over in reverence. Only stretch out your right hand, don't hold the interviewer's hand in both your hands. Do the same at the end of the interview, but this time say thank you, instead of mentioning your name.

Non-verbal communication during tasks

In the event that you are asked to put up a presentation or made to participate in a group discussion or other activities don't lose sight of the fact that your non-verbal skills are also up for the test. Maintain the same poise that you would during an interview. Hold your head high, shoulders back. Maintain eye contact when communicating whether with the interviewers or with other interviewees. Follow the same practices that you would during an interview.

If asked to make a presentation do not show your back to the interviewers. Slides are important, and they can are generally self-explanatory – face the interviewers and talk to them about the points in the presentation. Don't repeat what is up on the screen. Keep arms by your side or gesticulate if you must. Don't pace in front of the screen like a caged animal. Stand confidentially, and speak. Stop to listen to any questions the panel may have. Follow the eye contact tip that is mentioned above throughout the presentation

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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