Job interviews can often feel like you are under a microscope. Job candidates are aware that they are being assessed for competence, confidence, and candor. But what about the interviewer? An interviewer’s body language can speak louder than words. Here's how to tell what the interviewer really thinks:
1. Check his feet. If an interviewer says he “could go on talking with you all day,” but his feet are pointing toward the door, he is actually eager for the conversation to come to a close.
If someone is sitting with ankles crossed and legs stretched forward, they are probably feeling positively toward you. But, feet pulled away from you, wrapped in a tight ankle lock, pointed at the exit, or wrapped around the legs of a chair, usually indicates withdrawal and disengagement.
2. See if she's a copycat. If an interviewer begins to mimic your gestures, she feels you are a kindred spirit and you’re likely to get his stamp of approval. This is because when we talk with someone we like or are interested in we subconsciously switch our body posture to match that of the other person—mirroring that person’s nonverbal behavior and signaling that we are connected and engaged.
3. Watch his shoulders. If the interviewer shrugs one shoulder as he tells you about the company’s great work environment, it’s probably not that great. A partial, or abridged, shoulder shrug usually indicates that a person lacks conviction about what they are saying.
4. Notice where she's looking. If the interviewer has good eye contact with you or keeps glancing at your resume, she’s likely interested in you for the position. We tend to gaze longer at people and things we like. Conversely, when someone is disengaged, the amount of eye contact decreases or you will notice that she keeps glancing around the room.
5. Realize that if he hesitates, it's not a good sign. If you ask when you’ll know if you got the job, and he replies, “Um, uh, er . . . soon,” you’ll probably never hear from him again. For most people, the act of lying is stressful. One of the signs of stress is the use of verbal hesitations and false starts.
6. Observe her head position. If the interviewer tilts her head as you’re speaking, she wants to hear more. Head tilting is a signal that someone is interested, curious and involved. The head tilt is a universal gesture of “giving the other person an ear.”
7. Hope for a full frontal response. If the interviewer’s entire body—head, shoulders, hips and feet —is oriented toward you, he is totally engrossed in what you’re saying. When people are engaged, they will face you directly, “pointing” at you with their whole body. But, the instant they feel uncomfortable, they may angle their upper body away.
Carol is an international keynote speaker at conferences, business organizations, government agencies, and universities. She addresses a variety of leadership issues, but specializes in helping leaders build their impact and influence skills for fostering collaboration, building trust, and projecting that illusive quality called "leadership presence." She is the author of "STAND OUT: How to Build Your Leadership Presence." and the creator of LinkedIn Learning's video course, "Body Language for Leaders." Carol completed her doctorate in the United States. She can be reached at http://CarolKinseyGoman.com