Nonverbal Interview Tips

If you haven’t seen this article and infographic from AOL Jobs, go read it now.

Most of the information is common knowledge and much given advice. However, the nonverbal cues portion is worth reviewing. A few that should be noted:

  • 21% played with their hair
  • 41% had no knowledge of the company
  • 67% didn’t make eye contact
  • 38% didn’t smile
  • 21% crossed their arms
  • 9% were too animated
  • 26% had a weak handshake
  • 33% fidgeted

Almost all of those are areas the interviewee could easily change with confidence in themselves, practice and a few smart choices.

If you have long hair put it up.  Short, clip it back. Make your hair difficult to play with. If you already are a habitual hair-toucher, do not wear lots of product (men, this goes for you too!). The last thing you want is a sticky hand when giving a handshake.

Do your research! A well-informed candidate who wasn’t perfect at the interview will outshine a great interview that knew nothing about the company every single time.

Practice making eye contact. Did you know there is a name for the study of eye contact? It’s called oculesics. According to this post on body language tips, two seconds is a reasonable amount of time and conveys comfort. Avoiding eye contact makes you seem distrustful at best, rude and uninterested at worse.

Smile, even when you’re nervous. The more you practice smiling, the less likely you are to frown or come across as grouchy.

Sit up straight. Just like with everything else on this list, it conveys confidence and alertness.

Find something else to do with your hands if you are a hand talker or have a habit of crossing your arms. Bring work examples, extra copies of your resume and more importantly a pad and notebook to take notes. You don’t actually have to take notes, but it is much more difficult to cross your arms or wave wildly when you are holding a pen. This should also help the fidgeting.

Handshakes are not difficult. Ask a trusted friend to judge yours. Practice. There is no excuse for a poor handshake (minus a broken hand of course).

What other nonverbal cues do you look for in a candidate?

SXSW is Like Twitter in Real Life


Image from:

This choice piece of wisdom was passed on to me about day two in the massive conference, but the statement is absolutely valid and not just for South by Southwest, for almost all conferences.


All conferences have name tags. This makes it easy to see who you are talking to, just like a Twitter handle. Remember the person’s name and use it in conversation, it will help you remember who they are.

You’re going to meet people, so be friendly. Be quickly able to say who you are, who you work for and why you are at the conference. Shake hands. Smile. Share your business cards, collect other’s business cards. Write on the back where you met the person (example: dinner at name the restaurant). If you got swag, write that down too.

Don’t be afraid to join a conversation, but use social cues. If you jump in with a witty comment and and get funny looks, jump out. If no one responds to your comment, politely leave. Unlike on Twitter, you will feel dumb. That’s ok. The conversation just wasn’t for you. Other ones will be! The flip side is to be nice to people who hop into your conversations. Don’t give them nasty looks.

If you can handle Twitter and have an ability to read social cues, you’ll be fine handling real life Twitter.

(The social cues post, however, is another post.)