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At Job Interviews, What You Don’t Say Matters To Recruiters

The recruitment and selection process can be complicated and confusing. For many job seekers, the term recruitment conveys strong emotions. Controlling your emotions when participating in a recruitment campaign can heavily impact on your chances of success.

The recruitment and selection process can be complicated and confusing. For many job seekers, the term recruitment conveys strong emotions. Controlling your emotions when participating in a recruitment campaign can heavily impact on your chances of success.

When it comes to trying to find a job, the majority of job seekers focus on the things they say and present so that they can make an impression on recruiters and employers (resumes, cover letters and responses at interviews).

However, what many Job Seekers don’t understand is that their performances at job interviews and other recruitment assessments can be affected by non-verbal communication.

Studies suggest that 70% to 80% of the meaning in a message is communicated non-verbally.

The way in which Job Seekers behave, as well as their attitude, can heavily influence the decisions recruiters make. Remember, when recruiters undertake recruitment campaigns, they not only record the information job seekers present, but also how they behave.

Non-verbal signals have a profound influence at job interviews, recruitment assessment centres and other recruitment assessments. They can indicate levels of engagement, distraction and boredom.

What might your body being saying to others at recruitment assessments?

The following are four non-verbal signals, as observed by Jeffrey Kudisch, that recruiters look for and observe when participating in interviews and other recruitment assessments.

Facial Expressions: Simple gestures such as smiling convey interpersonal warmth, empathy and friendliness. A genuine smile expresses interest and happiness. But a nervous smile or one that lacks authenticity can undermine interactions with potential employers and recruiters. Stoic facial expressions can also convey disinterest. Flushed cheeks could convey nervousness or limited self-confidence.

Keep in mind that smiling may have different meanings across cultures. For example, research suggests that Koreans rarely smile, while Japanese use smiles to convey a wide range of emotions – from happiness to sadness to disagreement.

Eye Contact: Maintaining good eye contact, especially at job interviews, helps connect with people and is important when networking with recruiters. Limited eye contact, shifting eyes, smirks, rapid blinking and squinting might convey that you’re being dishonest or phony. And squinting accompanied with a furrowed brow conveys distress or discomfort.

Hand Gestures: Hand gestures can accentuate speech and emphasize key points. According to Joe Navarro, author, ex-FBI agent and expert in nonverbal behaviour, some gestures – such as touching your fingertips together like a steeple – can convey confidence, thoughtfulness and focus. Former President Bill Clinton often used this hand movement. Interlaced hands with thumbs up also demonstrates confidence. However, too many gestures can be distracting and will definitely turn off recruiters. Rubbing hands together, cracking your knuckles or fiddling with your pen or jewellery can convey insecurity or discomfort.

Body Posture: At recruitment assessment centres, body posture can also enhance or undermine your performance. Sitting and standing upright and in a relaxed manner projects self-confidence, and leaning toward a person shows interest. Job seekers should try to put their hands in their lap or on the armrest of a chair at job interviews. At job interviews (if possible), try to stay in close proximity to the interviewer without getting so close that you’re seen as aggressive. Don’t be too rigid in your posture – that can project nervousness. But slouching or leaning backwards can indicate disinterest or lack of confidence, and folding arms can be interpreted as a sign of defensiveness.

At recruitment assessment centres, never stand with your arms folded. Recruitment assessment centres are meant to demonstrate to recruiters your interpersonal skills. Folding your arms only demonstrates that you are nervous and defensive.


Whether you’re participating in job interviews, career fairs or recruitment assessments, remember that first impressions are lasting ones. Think about those messages you’re saying just through your body language, and make every effort possible to improve your chances of becoming the preferred candidate.

Don’t be scared or intimidated by the term recruitment and job hunting. Recruiters only want to observe you qualities, skills and if you can perform the tasks of the position.

When participating in interviews, recruitment assessment centres or any other form of recruitment assessments, I always coach job seekers to act natural. RememberFeature Articles, Just be your-self and focus on selling your strong points.

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The author, Andrew Puhanic, has over 7 years’ experience working within the field of recruitment for both public and private sector organisations. Andrew has worked for small to medium enterprises, labour hire firms and government sector agencies. Andrew also has coached Job Seekers, employers and employees on recruitment fundamentals and techniques.

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