Candidates: Use Nonverbal Communication to Send the Right Message

July 18th, 2014

It’s often said that the first five seconds a candidate spends with an interviewer can determine whether he or she lands the job. This may not be entirely true—after all, interviews are very complex and subjective process, and no two are ever quite the same. But there’s no doubt that a first impression creates a lingering impact. If the first introduction goes well, it takes a lot to derail an interviewer’s interest. And if the first few seconds go poorly, the opposite applies, and even the most brilliant and qualified candidates may have a hard time climbing back into their potential employer’s good graces.

So if you’re in the candidates chair, start the process off right by keeping these nonverbal tips in mind.

1. Relax.

Tension is not your friend. If you’re struggling to remember your mental list of nonverbal cues (make eye contact! Sit up straight! Etc, etc), that’s fine. But leave this list behind as you step in the door. From this point forward, you’re just two people having a polite conversation. Your elaborate choreography won’t help you if it isn’t already ingrained. A few practice sessions beforehand can make your posture, your eye contact and your smile seem less forced and more natural.

2. Engage.

Show interest in what your interviewer is saying. But just as important, show interest in what she’s thinking and feeling. Read between the lines. Tune in and ask polite follow-up questions as she speaks. As for clarification when you need it. Don’t turn her off by sitting in a self-involved bubble, practicing your next comment in your head when you should be listening and paying attention to those around you.

3. Lean forward.

Literally lean forward, or at the very least, keep your body posture inclined toward the person who is speaking to you across the table. If she decides to lean back in her chair, you can consider yourself momentarily released and you can arrange your body as you choose, but as soon as she straightens out, you should too.

4. Be mindful of your hands and arms.

Most of the time, your hands and arms should be relaxed at your sides. As you speak, you can move them forward and use them for emphasis. But at no point should you let your hands rise up to touch your face or cover your mouth. This is recognized as a gesture people use when they have something to hide.

At all times, make a good faith effort to stay open, honest, thoughtful and warm and your natural gestures will follow. If you close down, stiffen up, or don’t believe in your own words, this will also show in your gestures and posture. For more on how to send the first message and avoid the second, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.


Don’t Scare Candidates Away! Keep Your Interview Process Enjoyable

February 7th, 2014

If you’re an experienced HR pro or hiring manager, you already understand the importance of treating your candidates with respect. Of course you would never bully them, bait them, insult them, or cross examine them as if they’re being accused of a crime. Foolish moves like these will drive away great candidates and cause a form of adverse selection; eventually, talented contenders who have other options will look elsewhere, and only the desperate will remain.

But to conduct a truly successful interview, you’ll have to go a step further than basic civility. Here are a few ways to make your interview process not only tolerable, but enjoyable—on both sides of the table.

1. Approach the process in the right frame of mind. Of course you have a job to do and a position to staff. But if you take an all-business approach and never let your guard down even once, then your candidate probably won’t either. So relax. Think of the candidate as a guest in your home, an interesting person you haven’t had a chance to meet yet.

2. Remember that the process works two ways. The candidate will be taking and leaving impressions as actively as you are. The power balance may appear to tip in your favor, but if she’s the right one for the position, you need her as much as she needs you.

3. Keep an open mind. Cut off any budding feelings of skepticism or criticism before they appear on your face. If you need additional information or reassurance after a candidate speaks, ask for it. Don’t just glare disapprovingly. Again, the candidate will pick up on your energy and will close down if you do.

4. Smile if your candidate makes a nervous joke, and nod if she shares information which seems to make her proud. These gestures don’t express any kind of commitment on your part—they’re just polite. And they’ll improve the experience for both of you.

5. Notice if your candidate wants to redirect the conversation, and follow her where she chooses to take you. This may reveal far more useful information than you’d get by forcing things back onto the script every two minutes.

6. Strive to impress. Invest effort in generating a feeling of warmth, welcome, competence, and enthusiasm for the task at hand. Small details like a clean, well-organized interview space, a firm handshake, and respect for the candidate’s time can dramatically elevate the conversation and help both of you get the most out of the process.

For more information on how to make the interview process a pleasant experience and how to leave a lasting impression on your most talented candidates, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU.

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