Assessing Nonverbal Cues in the Interview

Nonverbal cues can tell you a lot about a candidate during an interview – maybe even more than what he has to say. Some studies break communication down this way:

55% Body Language

38% Intonation

7% Verbal


Unfortunately, candidates know that too. Savvy candidates work to control behaviors that can be considered undesirable such as jiggling, twitching and slumping posture. How can you assess a candidate without resorting to “gotcha” tactics?


Seven Foolproof Tips to Assess Body Language

1.       Observation – Watch candidates in the waiting room. Do they appear relaxed, engaged? Are they looking at their surroundings, demonstrating curiousity about the company? Did they greet the receptionist in a friendly manner?


2.       First impressions – Does the candidate appear polished, neatly dressed? Does he or she have straight posture and a genuine smile? Do they offer a firm, not crushing, handshake?


3.       Storytelling – Ask them to share an accomplishment they are proud of. Do their facial expressions and body language indicate that pride? (Sitting up straight, engaged, smiling if appropriate.)


4.       Matching – Does their non-verbal and verbal communication match? (Nodding while saying no – not a match.)


5.       Eye contact – Do they engage in excessive eye contact? This could mean that they have an aggressive personality or perhaps they’ve “over trained” for the interview and are just trying too hard.


6.       Meet and greet – Introduce them to other employees – peers, superiors or support staff – and observe how they behave. Are they friendly, curious and appropriately behaved with each?


7.       Mirroring – Do they mirror your posture? This can be faked, but it tends to seem obvious. Look for the candidate to position themselves to face you or tilt their head attentively when you speak.

There is a wealth of information available on interview body language and a lot you can pick up on when you take the time to observe.


Don’t want to play “Charades” during the hiring process?

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