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Body Language and Interviewing

Job Interviews

Did you know a great majority of employment decisions are made within the first few minutes. Realize that during our conversations, especially the first minute, a very small portion of the first impression we give is via words. The remaining is based upon paralanguage; pitch, amplitude, rate, and voice quality of speech as well as body language. Click here for some tips interviewing.

1. Are recruiters aware of a candidate's body language?

Yes. Some are consciously and some are unconsciously. I have taught classes to managers on how to look for specific signs during interviews. The astute one's who are aware of the significance of body language will usually be looking for specific movements of comfortability, direct eye contact, interest, energy level, confidence, courteousness and honesty. The ones who do not consciously pick it up will just "feel" something for a candidate. This is why decisions are sometimes made within the first few minutes.

2. Depending on body language, what types of vibes can you pick up?

Vibes can be insecurity (lack of eye contact, poor posture), lying (lack of eye contact, scratching the face or ear), lazy (slump in chair), overbearing (sitting down before being asked to). Pointing feet in the direction of the exit (feet point to where the body wants to go). Rocking back and forth ( nervous).

Weak body language can cost you a job.

3. What are some of the most common body language flaws you have witnessed?

People getting into other's personal space, especially with poor hygiene. People closing their body language due to nervousness. Slumping onto a large chair instead of sitting close to the edge. Not enough eye contact or sometimes too much eye contact - what I like to call the "stalker stare". Looking angry sometimes also caused by nervousness and not have a "ready and relaxed face" - p;eople need to learn how to relax the entire face but especially the lips. Candidates adjusting their clothes during the interview or perhaps a woman adjusting her pantyhose.

4. What are some flaws candidates may not know they are committing?

Again, walking into someone's intimate zone which is 18 inches in front of them. Folding their arms which usually is perceived as defensive. Neglecting eye contact (looking at the area with the eye nose triangle) or the stalker stare which is too much eye contact directly in the eyes. Shaking a leg while sitting which gives an indication of bordeom, nervousness or insecurity. Crossing and recrossing the legs which also indicates unease. Rubbing the nose, face or ear - which sometimes gives the impression you are lying. Rubbing the back of the neck which is usually read as the candidate being bored (pain in the neck). Also, using space fillers such as um and uh are picked up quickly by interviewers and looked down upon. A silent pause gives the indication that you are really thinking about your answer and are confident enough to allow momentary silence. Fidgeting in general - while interviewing don't play with jewelry, don't twist your hair, don't jazz your legs, talk too loudly with hands, slump over in your seat, tap your pen, adjust your clothes or bring your hands to your face. Your voice should be strong - if it is too low you are giving the impression you are shy. If it is too loud you will give the impression you are overbearing. Find a happy medium. Also, Men should not rest one ankle on the other knee which sometimes indicates stubborness.

5. What are some examples of good body language?

Standing up straight. Open body language which means that nothing is crossed, your arms are at your sides, your legs are straight down and your face is smiling and inviting. Good handshake- strong and confident. A firm handshake should be pumped 2-3 times and then released. Handshakes should not be with two hands. Be aware of your hands and feet. Sitting with feet firmly planted on the floor (for women, perhaps ankles crossed). Relaxed hand position and proper gesticulations - always keeping your hands below your chin and within shoulder range. Make sure you maintain proper eye contact. You should be smiling when it is warranted - not during the entire interview. Proper head tilt and nod as well as leaning forward to show interest and enthusiasm.

6. Do you think nerves might influence someone's body language?

Absolutely. When we become nervous, we are not consciously aware of our bodies and what they are saying. When we are nervous we also tend to speak faster and at a higher pitch (because our vocal cords become stretched) which is usually picked up on by the interviewer.

Finally, go lightly on cologne and perfume - smells are very strong anchors - you don't want to walk into an interview wearing the same scent as the person who potentially dumped the interviewer the night before. Remember, proper speed of speaking, proper tone, proper pitch. Shoulders up and back, smile, confident walk and confident handshake.

Tonya Reiman

 Body Language Expert

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