Interview Tips

Body Language: The 15 Signals Hiring Managers Send and How to Read Them

You can improve your interviews and your chances of landing the job – as well as save a lot of time – when you learn what they’re saying with their bodies.

Here’s a quick reference guide to what they’re really saying and how to respond.

1) Eyes to the left while talking – Indicates the speaker is lying. Proceed with caution.

2) Crossed arms, leaning back – Defensive position. Hiring manager is likely intimidated by you. Ask a few non-threatening questions to change her mental state.

3) Crossed arms and legs – Classic defensive unaccepting position. Consider regrouping and redirecting the conversation so she’s more accepting of what you’re saying.

4) Tapping on the keyboard while talking – She’s only talking to you because they legally need to interview outside candidates. In truth, an internal candidate will get the position. Continue the interview for practice only.

5) Unwavering stare – She’s trying to intimidate you. Most are unnerved when being stared at, and she’s looking to see what your reaction is. She’s also trying to read you. Redirect her by using hand gestures that break into the line of the stare. They eyes, after all, are drawn toward motion.

6) Resting head on one palm – She’s bored. Bring out the big guns by working your best credentials into the conversation and increasing your vocal variety.

7) Elbows on desk with chin resting on folded hands – Worse than bored, she’s condescending. She’s regarding you lightly, as if she was speaking to a child. You need to earn respect and build credibility fast.

8) Arms on arm rest, feet on floor – She doesn’t want you to be able to read her so she’s presenting a blank page. But as any poker aficionado will tell you, every player has a “tell.” Look at her neck muscles and face for signs of life and to detect a pattern.

9) Leaning in, hands folded in front – She’s interested in what you’re saying. Mirror her position and continue the line of conversation.

10) Neck muscles twitch or ears wiggle – This is a classic sign of stress. She either doesn’t want to reveal information – or to lie. Decide if you want to push it or not, then proceed with caution.

11) Expression/verbiage mismatch – If, for instance, her face is blank but her voice is overly jovial, she is being incongruent. And it’s by design. This technique is often used by those who have a superiority complex as a way of toying with their prey. While this may momentarily confuse you, don’t let it show. Maintain your composure because she’s trying to read your reaction.

12) Excessive blinking – She probably gets nervous in interviews – or the interview might be monitored electronically. This is the time to bring out your interpersonal skills to put her at ease. She’ll appreciate it and regard you favorably.

13) Inappropriate facial expressions – If she looks shocked when you’re discussing mundane data, she’s likely not reacting to you, but to an internal dialogue. Bring her back into the moment with a mild joke followed by a slight chuckle. She will probably realize she missed something in the conversation and refocus her attention.

14) Head tilted to one side – This typically signals submission. She’s buying into what you’re saying. Either that, or she she’s trying to act like she’s buying into it (often a placating move). To be certain which is intended, look for other gestures.

15) Head tilted back slightly while looking at you – This could been one of two things (or both): she doesn’t believe you; or she thinks very, very little of you. In either case, it’s important to build credibility. Work a few of your most outstanding credentials into the conversation. If that doesn’t seem to work, you’ll need to decide if you really want to work for someone like that.

IN A NUTSHELL: Increase the quality of your interviews and save time by learning to read body language.

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