Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rock That Interview: Nonverbal Communication

    According to almost every communication studies class I have taken, nonverbal behaviors take up about 93 percent of our communication with each other. That says a lot about the importance of being aware of the messages your body and voice are giving off. In this edition of “Rock that Interview” we look at the different types of nonverbal behaviors and what messages they could send off.


1. Facial Expressions

Let’s start with the easiest to be aware of. Facial expressions are the emotions you wear on your face. Be alert during your interview and look like you actually want to be there. It also would not hurt to smile. It makes the interaction much warmer, more comfortable, and can also alter your mood positively. However, remember to commit to the smile. Do not go halfway and just smile with your mouth. Smile with your eyes as well. Your eyes are just as important as they can say more about your emotions than your mouth can ever.

2. Oculesics

In relation to your facial expressions, oculesics are also important in showing emotion with your face. Oculesics deals with the movement in your eyes. The most simple way to make sure your eyes do not go astray is to keep eye contact with your interviewer. It shows that you are listening to what they have to say. Our eyes tend to move when we talk, so be aware and remember to keep them at the direction of the interviewer, not the ceiling, not the floor, and not the window to your side. Constant eye movement can give off signs of insincerity and nervousness.

3. Gestures

Gestures, like hand gestures, are used enhance the meaning of what you are trying to say without using words. Something important that my speech and public speaking classes have taught me is that gestures should be used sparingly and if they do not add anything to what you are saying, then they should not be done. However, hand gestures can help the flow of the conversation, so they are not necessarily useless. You just have to know when to use them and how to use them naturally. Practice some of your answers beforehand and try to be in control of how your hands move. Also remember to keep calm and make sure your gestures do not become too exaggerated.

4. Paralanguage

Paralanguage deals with the different elements of your voice. For example: tone, pitch, volume, and inflection. Even the way you say your answers to questions can affect the message behind the words. Say your answers with conviction, and confidence. A little shakiness in your voice and a little raise in your pitch can show uncertainty in your answers. Word emphasis is also important. Be aware of which words you give emphasis to, as it can also change the meaning.

For example, try to say each sentence while putting emphasis on the bolded word:
I never said your internships were bad.”
“I NEVER said your internships were bad.”
“I never SAID your internships were bad.”
“I never said YOUR internships were bad.”
“I never said your INTERNSHIPS were bad.”
“I never said your internships WERE bad.”
“I never said your internships were BAD.”

5. Proxemics

Proxemics deal with the space or distance between the parties of communication. In sit down interviews this is not a big concern. However, some interviewers may want take you on a tour of the facilities and this is where proxemics come into play. Get too close and you’ll be invading the interviewer’s space. Get too distant and you’ll appear afraid and uncomfortable. If your interviewer is taking the lead, be close enough behind him to where the interviewer can hear your voice, but far enough to be able to not make contact with him/her when he/she stops to show you something. If you are walking side by side, just make sure to stay in your walking lane and not run into others walking in the opposite direction. Also make sure not to awkwardly make hand contact with your interviewer as if you were on a first date.

6. Olfactics

Olfactics deal with your smell. Smell will not necessarily change the messages of what you say, but it can change the impression of how your interviewers see you. The age old tip is to not do too much. Strong and overpowering colognes, perfumes, and deodorants can bother the most sensitive of noses. Opt out for warmer smells and save the axe spray for the club. (Actually, don’t use it there either).


As said earlier, nonverbal communication take up a majority of communication with others. Even in silence we are communicating. From the way we move our body and face to the way our eyes move. Nonverbal communication may be difficult to grasp at first, but mastering your body movements under pressure will definitely help with your presence and the influence you have on others. It is good not only for interviews, but also for life. Now go on and rock that interview!

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© No Experience Required Maira Gall.