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Non-Verbal Communication and Professional Success

“How Non-verbal Communication can make or break your Job Interview”

By: Chelsea A. Glover


“You cannot NOT communicate; inadvertently, whether you know it or not you are ALWAYS communicating.” What a prospective employer learns about you in an interview is way beyond your answers to interview questions. Nonverbal communication is generated by you, the speaker, and your use of the environment to help portray an overall message for the receiver, or potential employer. Employers pay closer attention to how well you dress, how well you speak, and how well you carry yourself than they do anything else. Non-verbal communication comes naturally; it is something you just cannot hide, and it often tells the employer almost everything they need to know about you. In addition to this, it helps the employer read more into your words and fully grasp what type of employee you would be.

Types of nonverbal communication include but are not limited to touch (firm handshakes), eye contact, volume, gestures, facial expressions, posture, body language, general appearance and dress. Remember that a first impression is a lasting one; how you present yourself can make or break your interview before you even open your mouth to speak. More often than not, it is what students aren’t saying in an interview that is costing them the job. Meaning, guys – if you show up to a professional job interview wearing sneakers or athletic apparel, you can almost guarantee you have ruined what could have been a great opportunity. Ladies, the same applies for you. Your appearance speaks measures.

All of your nonverbal behaviors – the gestures you make, the way you sit, the speed and volume in which you speak, how close you stand, how much eye contact you give – send strong messages to potential employers. The way you listen, move and react tells the employer whether or not you care, how well you listen, and how truthful you are being. When your nonverbal communication matches the words you speak, it increases trust, clarity and rapport, which increases your chances of getting the job. When nonverbal communication does not match the words you speak, it generates tension, mistrust and confusion, be very particular and cognitive of the signs you display to a potential employers.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Nonverbal Communication in an Interview Setting



Dress professionally

Wear casual or sloppy clothes

Make eye contact with the interviewer

Slouch or practice bad posture

Give a firm handshake

Interrupt the interviewer

Practice good posture

Lean back in your chair or put your feet up

Be polite, respectful and well mannered

Use your hands excessively when speaking

Pay attention, be attentive and interested

Put your hands in your pocket

Keep an even tone in your speech

Use fillers, like “umm,” “uh-huh,” or “hmm”


Why is this important to know?

College Journal reports that, according to recent studies, “Body Language comprises 55% of the force of any response, whereas the verbal content only provides 7% and paralanguage, or the intonation – pauses and sighs given when answering, represents 38% of the emphasis.”

Want help with your nonverbal (and verbal) interview communication?

Get feedback on your nonverbal communication style through a practice interview scheduled with your career advisor.  You’ll be able to answer real interview questions and get feedback about your interview.