Education Career Services

October 22, 2009

Nonverbal communications – escape the pitfalls

October 22 2009It begins even before you say your first word in an interview. When the interviewer greets you, an opinion is already being formed. There you sit, waiting to spew out your answers to questions you have prepared for while you are already being judged by your appearance, posture, smile, or nervous look.

A study done at UCLA revealed that the impact of a performance was based on 7%of the words used, 38% on voice quality and 55% on nonverbal communication.

Look back at speakers or teachers you’ve heard lecture. Which ones stand out as memorable? Is it the ones who were more animated and entertaining, or the narrator who just gave out information? This is not to say you have to entertain the interviewer (no jokes, please), but it does mean the conversation should be more interactive. If you say you are excited about the prospect of working for this company but don’t show any enthusiasm, your message will probably fall flat. So smile, gesture once in a while, show some energy and make the experience more pleasurable for both sides.

Beware of these common pitfalls:

The handshake: Your handshake should be firm, not bone-crushing, and your hand should be dry and warm. Try running cold water on your hands when you first arrive at the interview site. Run warm water if your hands tend to be cold. The insides of your wrists are especially sensitive to temperature control.

Your posture: Stand and sit erect. We’re not talking ramrod posture, but show some energy and enthusiasm. A slouching posture looks tired and uncaring. Check yourself out in a mirror or on videotape.

Eye contact: Look the interviewer in the eye. You don’t want to stare, as this shows aggression. Occasionally, and nonchalantly, glance at the interviewer’s hand as he is speaking. By constantly looking around the room while you are talking, you convey a lack of confidence or discomfort with what is being discussed.

Your hands: Gesturing or talking with your hands is very natural. Getting carried away with hand gestures can be distracting. Also, avoid touching your mouth while talking. Watch yourself in a mirror while talking on the phone. Chances are you are probably using some of the same gestures in an interview.

Fidgeting: There is nothing worse than someone playing with his or her hair, clicking a pen top, tapping a foot, or unconsciously touching parts of their body.

Preparing what you have to say is important, but practicing how you will say it is imperative. Sometimes nonverbal messages speak louder than verbal messages.

If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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