To help recruiters study and understand nonverbal cues, we’re looking to the stars. Check out these celebrity photos for insight into understanding body language. The next time you’re interviewing a candidate, what they do may tell you clearly what they’re saying, even if it conflicts with their words.
Between 65 and 95 percent of what you say is said through body language, not by what you say out loud, so understanding body language is extremely valuable when you’re working with candidates.
If you ask a candidate how likely they are to take a job and they look around the room, you can take that body language as a clue to follow up with a question about any concerns holding them back. Schedule a reminder post interview in your recruiting software to send the candidate more information about their concerns.
The Eyes Have It. Where a candidate is looking can give clues into what they’re thinking, and maybe even let you know whether or not they’re telling the truth. According to changingminds.org, looking up and to the left, like Lindsay Lohan, may indicate recalling a memory. But looking up and toward the right conveys using one’s imagination.
Depending on the person’s body language — and what they’re saying — that might mean they’re lying. It’s not fool-proof, but understanding body language like this can be helpful when you’re talking to clients about a sensitive topic, such as if you ask, “Are you working with other recruiting agencies?” or “How happy are you with this job opening?”
Staffing firms’ sales teams can advance their careers by understanding body language to better connect with clients. That advice can be found in Part One of our series, Killer First Impressions: Body Language Advice for Your Staffing Sales Team.
Standing Tall. If someone needs to boost their confidence, they should remember what their mom instructed and stand up straight. Assuming a powerful stance can help someone feel assured. Researchers found that holding one’s body in a high power pose for even two minutes, like Taylor Swift is doing in this photo, gives more empowered feelings.
Candidates who are standing powerfully may be feeling very confident about the meeting … or they may be trying to use the pose to feel more in control.
Heavy Head. Remember your most boring high school teacher and think of your classmates, slumped in their chairs, hands under their chins, trying to stay awake. Hopefully your candidates are alert and engaged during interviews and actively listen. If they put their head on their hands, like Robert Pattinson’s posture in this photo, they might be bored.
Other signs of indifference include doodling and drumming fingers, according to Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, Forbes leadership blogger and an expert on understanding body language.
“When you see people turn their shoulders and torso away from you, you’ve probably lost their interest,” says Goman. If your candidate is looking bored, ask questions to discover whether they really want a new job or are merely using an offer to get a raise or promotion at their current company.
Crisscross. When 3-year-olds get cranky, they often cross their arms in front of their body, go “Hmph!” and glare. Crossing your arms in front of your body is a natural way to show that you don’t like what you hear. On this Newsweek cover, Hillary Clinton has been posed with her arms in a certain way. But her body language is reserved and relays that she possibly feels closed off.
According to Goman, crossed arms almost always indicate a closed sign of resistance. Watch how candidates hold their arms; crossed arms may indicate they’re unimpressed by the company, salary or their new title. Find out if they expect a better offer elsewhere or had a certain rate in mind.
Footwork. Feet shuffling and shifting show signals, too. When people are making an effort to appear a certain way, they usually concentrate on controlling their facial expressions, overall posture and what their hands are doing. Their feet, however, may display their bona fide feelings.
Britney Spears is trying to smile on the red carpet, but we know by understanding body language that she’s nervous by her shifting feet. During meetings, keep an eye on candidates’ feet. If they’re shuffling, stretching and curling, or kicking as if they want to run away, your candidate is showing that he or she feels anxious. Ask if they’re having second thoughts about a career move.
Sitting pretty. Even when a person is sitting, their feet can give clues about their feelings. “If someone is sitting with ankles crossed and legs stretched toward you, they probably feel positively toward you,” says Goman. “But when you see feet pulled away, wrapped in a tight ankle lock, pointed at the exit or wrapped around the legs of a chair, you would be wise to suspect withdrawal and disengagement.”
In our photo, Justin Timberlake’s top foot angling toward Jimmy Kimmel shows that he’s most likely enjoying their conversation. Recruiters who can view candidates’ feet may be able to glimpse hints into whether or not they feel engaged.
You Turn. There’s a reason that the phrase “cold shoulder” means being rejected, and yep — it’s all about body language. A person’s shoulders and torso can tell you what they feel. In the photo, Liv Tyler is about to turn away from the camera and head in a different direction.
Candidates who move away from you physically by leaning back and creating space may disagree with what you’re saying, be uncertain about the situation, feel defensive or be uncomfortable. Mention other positive aspects of the new job, such as benefits, 401k match, a generous vacation policy or telecommuting opportunities.
Smile. A smile is more than just a pretty expression — it helps create feelings of positivity in both the person smiling and the people around them, too. A genuine smile, like the one above from Oprah Winfrey, relays that she’s approachable and feeling cooperative.
Candidates’ smiles can convey whether they feel upbeat and if they view you as trustworthy. Forced smiles or grimaces might mean that a candidate feels uncomfortable or on edge. Mention some of your best success stories and testimonials from candidates whose careers have skyrocketed with your help.
As you interview candidates, you know they’ve prepped by practicing what to say and how to say it. They understandably want to do a good job at the interview. As you get into the nitty gritty details about job tasks, salary range, benefits and other specifics, you want to know if they like what they hear.
Knowing what nonverbal cues mean can tell how they truly feel, or give you hints about following up with more information that’s helpful to them. Whether candidates have nervous feet, defensive arms, a powerful stance or a relaxed smile, understanding body language helps you gather a clearer picture of their true message.
For more fascinating body language insight, learn how staffing firms’ sales teams can connect better with clients in part one of our series, Killer First Impressions: Body Language Advice for Your Staffing Sales Team.