Job interviews can often feel like you are under a microscope. Job candidates are aware that they are being assessed for competence, confidence, and candor. But what about the interviewer? An interviewer's body language can speak louder than words. Here are 10 cues that will tell you what the interviewer really thinks.
1. Check the feet. If an interviewer says he "could go on talking with you all day," but his feet are pointing toward the door, he is actually eager for the conversation to come to a close.
If someone is sitting with ankles crossed and legs stretched forward, they are probably feeling positively toward you. But, feet pulled away from you, wrapped in a tight ankle lock, pointed at the exit, or wrapped around the legs of a chair, usually indicates withdrawal and disengagement.
2. Copycat. If an interviewer begins to mimic your gestures, he feels you are a kindred spirit and you’re likely to get his stamp of approval. This is because when we talk with someone we like or are interested in we subconsciously switch our body posture to match that of the other person—mirroring that person’s nonverbal behavior and signaling that we are connected and engaged.
3. Check the shoulders. If the interviewer shrugs one shoulder as he tells you about the company’s great work environment, it’s probably not that great. A partial, or abridged, shoulder shrug usually indicates that a person lacks conviction about what they are saying.
4. Keeping eye contact. If the interviewer keeps glancing at your resume, he's likely interested in having you for the position. We tend to gaze longer at people and things we like. Conversely, when someone is disengaged, the amount of eye contact decreases.
5. Hem and Haw. If you ask when you'll know if you got the job, and he replies, "Um, uh, er . . . soon," you'll probably never hear from him again. For most people, the act of lying is stressful. One of the signs of stress is the use of verbal hesitations and false starts.
6. The Tilt. If the interviewer tilts his head as you’re speaking he wants to hear more. Head tilting is a signal that someone is interested, curious and involved. The head tilt is a universal gesture of “giving the other person an ear.”
7. All Signs Point West. If the interviewer’s entire body—head, shoulders, hips and legs—is oriented toward you, he is totally engrossed in what you’re saying. When people are engaged, they will face you directly, “pointing” at you with their whole body. But, the instant they feel uncomfortable, they may angle their upper body away.
Recognizing these cues is the first step to keeping an engaged conversation. Your next step is to think on your feet and respond accordingly—a skill worth mastering for your next job.
(Photo by Annija Muižule)