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How to Use Nonverbal Communication at an Interview

Effective communication consists of two main aspects namely, verbal and non-verbal.

When in a conversation, your words convey a piece of information, your body language conveys intention.

As important as it is to wisely choose your words to effectively communicate, it is important to keep a check on non-verbal aspects of communication which have the power to express things that you might not even bring up otherwise.

In an interview, it does matter how good you answer a particular question. But it also matters the way in which you answer a question.

With what expressions, with what hand movements and gestures. These things speak a lot. And remember, you can fake an answer but you cannot fake a gesture. So whatever these things speak, they always speak the truth!


Some studies show that 55 % of impression is created by your body language and 7 % through your answers.


And hence it is very important to understand the power of non-verbal communication and learn to use it to your advantage during an interview.

Here's a quick guide to what is non-verbal communication and how you can use it effectively to ace an interview.

What is nonverbal communication?

Non-verbal communication is communicating without words. It consists of your actions, your expressions, hand movements, eye contact, pitch, tone, accent, postures and gestures, and body language.

Actions speak louder than words and hence, you need to consider proper non-verbal communication when you face an interview. To imprint a good impression on the recruiter you must see to it that your body language appears positive, genuine, and humble.

Why is nonverbal communication important in an interview?

Nonverbal communication can be considered to be one of them is the main aspects of clearing an interview. Sometimes it can be more important than verbal communication.

Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all. -Edward Sapir

The hiring managers read your body language while you are answering the questions. They keenly observe your gestures and facial expressions. From your body language, they judge if you are calm, confident, and telling the truth.

Your body language clearly states your attitude and approach towards a task. They tell the interviewer whether you can handle difficult situations without getting stressed and frustrated. Your body movements also reveal a lot about your mental peace and stability.

In many interviews, nonverbal communication is considered an important point to assess your overall performance. Positive body language and gestures improve your chances of getting hired.

Here are a few non-verbal communication skills that you need to take care of while appearing for an interview:

Communicating using body movements is part of your personality. You can gain the attention of the recruiter within a second and can create either a good or a bad impression. Good if you are organized, confident with your gestures and bad if you are messed up.

1. Body language

Body language is a medium of expression. It expresses your emotions, thoughts, and how you convey your message.

From head to toe, everything is a part of body language. Blunt body language can portray that you are not confident and have a laid-back attitude.

Important things you need to take care of for maintaining good body language are:

  • Posture: Always have a warm and welcoming posture. Sit upright and pay detailed attention to the conversation or discussion you are involved in

  • Hand gestures: Sharp hand movements can help you state your point with firmness

  • Facial expressions: Keep a smile on your face. Try to avoid making wired faces. Hide your frustration or tension and nervousness behind your smile. This doe not only impress the employer but also makes you feel confident

  • Walking style: Walk with confidence. Make sure you don't appear lazy or uninterested when you walk

2. Proxemics

Proxemics describes how the person uses the space in a public place or even at a home. Maintaining enough space in between you and the interviewer while talking very important. Generally, during a conversation, you should maintain a distance of up to 18 inches. However, most of the time it depends on the surrounding area.

Make sure you:

  • Don't lean on the table while talking

  • Sit straight on the chair and keep the chair at the right distance

  • Do not fold or cross your arms, don't keep them on the desk either

  • Keep a sufficient gap while walking with or behind someone

3. Eye contact

Eye contact is important while giving an interview. Good eye contact shows your confidence.

Maintaining good eye contact can help you to hook in with the interviewer and make him/her listen to what you have to say. Good eye contact shows your involvement in the conversation.

The recruiter might also judge the credibility of your words from your eye contact.

Importance of Eye contact:

  • Good eye contact is a token of confidence

  • Unstable eye contact indicates that you are lying

  • Looking on the floor or somewhere else shows a lack of confidence

  • Identify the difference between maintaining eye contact and staring

  • Blinking an eye many times might indicate hesitation

4. Things you carry to the interview

Things you carry in an interview are also a part of nonverbal communication. We always carry things wherever we go.

An interview is no exception. You need to carry a few important things while going for an interview.

Important things that you should have with you in an interview are:

  • A folder with organized documents

  • Portfolio or pad holder 

  • Multiple copies of your resume

  • Pen and notepad

  • Work samples if any

Some things that are inappropriate to carry inside the interview room are:

  • Glue

  • Cell phone

  • Cigarettes

  • Candy

  • Soda or coffee

  • Messy shoes

  • Bling jewelry

  • Screaming heels/ shoes

5. Dress code

Dress code plays an important role in creating a good first impression.

The way you dress showcases your personality traits. Make sure that you dress professionally for an interview.

A few points to consider while selecting a dress code for an interview:

For Men:

  • A suit with solid colors

  • Long-sleeved shirt

  • Tie, leather belt, and clean shoes

  • Neat and professional hairstyle

  • Little scent or perfume

  • Very few or no accessories

For Women:

  • A suit in navy, black, or dark gray

  • A formal shirt or skirt just below or above the knee

  • Traditional dress or cotton saree

  • Short heels or sandals

  • Limited jewelry

  • Avoid dangling earrings or bracelets

  • Avoid messy hairstyle

  • Neutral-colored pantyhose

  • Light makeup and a limited amount of perfume

How to effectively use nonverbal communication in an interview?

Here are some tips that can help you make powerful use of nonverbal communication before, during, and after the interview.

Before the interview

  • Practice your body language and facial expression beforehand

  • Practice in front of a mirror or record your expressions to improve

  • Keep a pleasant smile on your face to look approachable

  • Research the company and check the job-relevant skills

  • Check the interview location and trace the route to reach early

  • On reaching the interview venue, greet the people with a smile

  • Be polite and wait patiently in the waiting room

During the interview

  • Make eye contact for a few seconds the moment you enter the interview room

  • Nod at the appropriate time when the interviewer speaks but don't overdo it

  • Be polite, relax, and show your involvement

  • Pay close attention to what the interviewer is saying and don't interrupt

  • Keep a firm body posture and speak confidently during a conversation

  • Avoid tapping on the desk with your fingers, shaking legs and hands, or playing with a pen or face and hair

  • Don't use slang. Speak clearly and definitely. Be humble

After the interview

  • Before leaving the interview room, make sure to smile and shake hands with the interviewer

  • Thank the interviewer politely for considering your application

  • Ensure to take your belongings with you. Avoid being clumsy

  • Walk confidently when you are leaving the room

  • Avoid checking your phone immediately

You must have now understood the importance of nonverbal communication during an interview you can prepare for your next interview taking into consideration the above-mentioned points.

Preparing and practicing before an interview is a key element for any interview to be successful. While you prepare technically for an interview, give some time to prepare for these no-technical, nonverbal aspects. Nonverbal communication can have a very great impact on a person.

So, prepare what you have to say and focus on your nonverbal communication. Pay attention to the basics of communication and make a habit to use them in your daily routine. The first impression matters a lot and can increase your chances of getting selected. And that way, you get a step closer to your dream job!

So? When are you starting to practice nonverbal communication? Let us know in the comments.


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