Make Sure That Your Non Verbal Communication Says “I Want the Job.”

by Beverly Langford

The Etiquette Edge

Job search can be nerve wracking and the stress levels can spike in the all-important interview. Too often, our mouth starts working before we engage our brain, and we often worry about saying things that either destroy or diminish the chances of landing that plum position. However, we often forget that our silent messages—our non verbal communication can also be a major factor in helping or hindering our interview success.

Remember that body language can overpower even the best rehearsed statements, so think about what your nonverbals are saying about your interest in the job and your potential to be a contributing, collaborative employee.

Do Whatever Is Necessary to Arrive Ahead of the Appointment Time

Running late for an interview, no matter how justified, is inexcusable in the eyes of most potential employers. Your punctuality speaks volumes about what he or she can expect from you on the job, and traffic snarls are no longer a viable excuse. All cities and even smaller areas have rush hours.

Make sure that you have clear directions to the company’s location, and secure a phone number to call if something unavoidable happens. Even if you have GPS, written directions are a good backup. People who have used GPS to find my home sometimes end up at a nearby shopping center. Plan to arrive a half hour early so that you can be calm and composed when you meet the interviewer.

Look Your Best

Remember that first impressions are critical. A perceptive interviewer knows that the potential employee will never look better than he or she does at the interview. An only so-so appearance tells the hiring manager that you may not look sharp on the job. Your clothing should be in top condition, fit well, and flatter you with style and color. When you know that you look your best, you will convey confidence and poise. Don’t forget your accessories. Shoes, handbag (if you’re female), and jewelry should say “professional” in every way.

Assure That Your Non Verbal Communication Says That You Are All in for the Interview

Be enthusiastic in your greeting of everyone you meet. Particularly be gracious to your interviewer’s staff or executive assistant. Hiring managers often ask others what they think of a candidate. If you take the time to acknowledge everyone you meet with interest and respect, you may get an endorsement that you didn’t expect. Of course, a firm handshake and strong eye contact sends a positive message, at least in western cultures.

Send a Nonverbal Message That You Are There to Learn

Even though you have a table or a phone, use a notepad to take notes about the company and about the job. Writing, while someone is talking or while you are asking questions, is usually less awkward than trying to key something into a device. Use a high-quality pen rather than something you got in a package of 10 at your nearby discount store. If you need reading glasses, have them handy so that you are all set when you sit down for the interview.

Prepare for Anything That Might Derail Your Effectiveness

If you have a small umbrella that will fit in a briefcase or handbag, you will have some insurance in case of an unexpected shower. If you have allergies, be sure to carry tissues or decongestants. Headaches can rob you of your energy and positive demeanor, so a small bottle of something for a nagging pain can be helpful. Moreover, don’t forget the breath mints, particularly if you have eaten a meal before the interview.

Knowing that you have fully prepared for the interview will translate to positive non verbal communication. However, you need to guard against letting your confident body language cross the line that becomes arrogance. Once you arrive at the hiring manager’s office, your nonverbals should reflect your interest in others. Being aware of the necessity to synchronize your verbal and nonverbal communication will ultimately help you send a positive message about you and your abilities.


Beverly Langford is the author of The Etiquette Edge: Modern Manners for Business Success and President of LMA Communication, a consulting, training, and coaching firm that works with organizations and individuals on strategic communication, message development, effective interpersonal communication skills, team building, and leadership development.

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