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Follow the Cues
March 14, 2012 @ 07:48 AM | By Anusha Karnad

As a voice and accent trainer, I have been working with my trainees on body language.

What is body language? Body language is an important part of communication which can constitute 50% or more of what we are communicating. If you wish to communicate well, then it makes sense to understand how you can (and cannot) use your body to say what you mean.


Because I’m part of a management team, I participate in interviewing candidates on a regular basis. I’m very aware of the role body language plays in communicating with people. I’ve found that it is really important to be aware that there’s far more going on than the discussion between you and the candidate. To make the best hiring decisions for your business, you need to pay attention to each applicant’s nonverbal cues.

What can you watch for or observe from candidates? Some of the points below can definitely help you filter them. If you are interviewing potential employees who are remote, video conferencing is the ideal way to make the meeting more like a face-to-face one so you can watch for those nonverbal cues. Many video conferencing providers, including InterCall, can help you find video rooms available to rent, so not having equipment isn’t a barrier.

Here are the tips from a blog, How Reading Body Language Can Help You Make Better Hiring Decisions, by Lee Polevoi.

Appearance counts. This is common sense, but worth a second look. The candidate should be well-dressed and properly groomed, which communicates professionalism and good self-esteem. In many companies, the panel of judges (I‘m included in this group) expect the candidates to come in proper professional attire.

Handshakes should be firm, but not too firm. A limp handshake is a warning sign of poor self-esteem, so naturally the opposite is preferable. A firm, dry handshake suggests self-confidence and the desire to impress. But not too firm, experts say. An inappropriately strong handshake may indicate aggressiveness.

At the same time, culture can dictate the proper way to shake hands with a man or woman. For instance, when a man shakes another man’s hand, a full handshake signifies that the person is strong and confident. When a man shakes a woman’s hand, the man holds only the four fingers of women’s hand and gently shakes, which indicates respect for the woman.

Good posture is a good sign. A promising job-seeker sits upright in the chair, but still communicates a sense of being at ease. Slouching indicates sloppiness, which is never an ideal employee trait. A candidate who slumps or leans back in his chair comes across as too relaxed, while a person who leans forward (and into your personal space) conveys aggressive tendencies. A person who sits crossing her leg and shakes the legs indicates casual behaviour. Fiddling with nails, twirling hair and tapping legs are also some indicators that the person is either disinterested or nervous.

Eye contact is a must, but not staring. Observe how well an applicant listens to and interacts with you. Does he seem engaged or aloof? Ideally, the candidate will maintain steady eye contact, rather than looking around the room while you’re talking (which suggests either a lack of confidence or disinterest in the conversation). That said, make sure he blinks occasionally, too: Prolonged or uncomfortable eye contact can be another sign of aggression. Maintaining eye contact with all the members of the panel is another point to be observed; if the candidate is responding to only one person and not maintaining eye contact with the other panel of judges, that indicates ignorance and disrespect.

Do you take interviews? Have you met any candidates whose body language gave insight into their personalities? Do you find that video conferencing improves the interview process with remote candidates? Share your experiences with me.

Anasha KarnadAnusha Karnad is a post call services lead at InterCall in Bangalore. She’s been with InterCall since 2009, working in customer service, training for new hires and account management where she helped customers with billing and service related questions. Anasha's background is in training voice, accent and soft skills for customer service agents.

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interview techniques

Avoid the temptation to check your text messages, check your watch, or check out how the other participants are reacting. Instead, focus on those who are speaking by turning your head and torso to face them directly and by making eye contact. Leaning forward, nodding and tilting your head are other nonverbal way to show you’re engaged and paying attention.

Video Communication

I just discovered this blog and found this particular article to be quite informative and helpful! Thank you for your commentary!

F. Michael Furbert

Giana Forzareli

There are a myriad of cues that you have to be aware of before making a judgement on body language. As a psychologist, I get a little upset when people talk about body language and only mention defensive (crossed arms, looking down) and reassurance moves ( playing with hair, biting nails). I went to a call center order taking facility where I watched the employees perform their everyday tasks. I noticed that they still act on some of their more anxious and reassurance type of action even when the other person in the conversation is not present. You should also be aware of psychopathic tendencies in interviews. You should see if the interviewer is playing a power game with you, whether he or she makes you wait in the lobby for a long period of time or pushes the boundaries of comfortably by encroaching upon your personal space. Please email me if you have any questions on body language. I am not an expert, but I am darn good.

Olward wilson

I am doing a project on Video Conferencing and Collaboration. I like the valuable information you provided in your blog. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Anusha Karnad

Hi all, thank you for all the valuable feedback.

James Norris

I am always in need of good video conference facilities but in Savannah, GA. I am constantly doing video conference calls and it becomes difficult if you do not have something set to use.


Body language sucks, it has too many little fake tricks, that can get you down :(

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