Decoding Body Language During an Interview

As an HR Manager, you probably think you’ve seen just about every kind of candidate under the sun. There are so many diverse types of people who apply to work for your company, but you are a good judge of character from the small amount of time you spend with them in interviews. But, every so often, a candidate walks in who is not at all what you expected from their resume. This is someone who is introverted, but smart and qualified, and you want to hire them, but may be having trouble deciphering their unique communication style.

This is where a keen knowledge of candidate body language can help you make a good hiring decision. Here are some guidelines for decoding the secret body language of candidates comes in handy.

Poor Eye Contact From The Candidate

This type of candidate body language can be a bit misleading during an interview. At first, you may think that he or she is disinterested or distant. The reality is that not all people are great with face-to-face communication and due to the extra nervousness of being in the “hot seat”, a candidate may shy away from making eye contact until they have warmed up to you a bit.

Closed Off Body Posture

Many times, a nervous candidate may struggle with sweaty palms or fidgety arms and legs during an interview. Therefore, they do the very worst thing and cross arms, legs and sit back in their chair. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a candidate is ready to bolt from the room. Use an open body posture yourself, smile, and do something to break the ice so they loosen up a little. If they don’t after your best attempts, they may not be suited for working with other people well.

Facial Expressions

When observing a candidate during an interview, are his or her facial expressions appropriate for the conversation? If you see a candidate positively responding to your questions, this should be evident with smiles, glancing upwards or to the right and left, and a positive expression. Any grimacing, looking down at the floor a lot, or other odd gestures may mean that the candidate is not being truthful or confident.

Nervous Ticks And Hand Gestures

It’s common for candidates to display a little bit of nervous tension in an interview, expressed by shaking, gripping the hands, or wiggling of the legs and feet. These are natural. But when a candidate has noticeable ticks, such as twitching eyes, desk drumming, pen clicking, lip biting, vocal utterances (like frequent coughing with no illness present), and other odd habits – take note of this. It could be a clue that the candidate may need to come back for a second interview for closer evaluation.