Body Language Speaks More than Words

nonverbalpicBy Ricardo Torres

A lousy handshake, lack of eye-contact and poor wardrobe choices can send job interviews to a screeching halt. Years of college and a flawless resumé might matter little to an interviewer if the applicant practices negative non-verbal communication.

“By reading the body language you can learn a lot about people, you can tell about how they like to work, how they like to interact with people,” says Don Richardson, vice president and general manager of Green Valley Ranch Resort. Richardson has been interviewed and has conducted interviews throughout his career.

Station Casinos, Green Valley Ranch’s parent company, is participating in the 2013 Spring Career Fair being hosted by the College of Southern Nevada on March 6.

Being aware of how important non-verbal communication is might give an applicant an edge over other candidates in a competitive and sometimes vicious job market.

“Non-verbal communication comprises 90 percent of communication, which means that our body language is extremely important in how people read and interact with us,” says Jennifer Sequeira, journalism and communications instructor at CSN. “In an interview setting, research studies have shown that many candidates are chosen within the first two minutes of the interview mostly due to non-verbal communication.”

Simply recognizing how crucial body language is might not be enough to seal the applicant’s chances of getting the job. Superficially preparing is not enough, because body-language cannot be faked. “Fakers can pretend for a short period of time,” says Allan and Barbara Pease, body-language experts and writers of “The Definite Book of Body Language.”

Richardson agrees. “People can tell you what you want to hear … people can’t fake body-language.”

Richardson’s advice includes relaxing and being you. “If someone has a 30-minute interview with you to assess what you’re like, you better show them who you are and what you’re going to be in the workplace, and try to be true to yourself and try to be true to who you are,” Richardson says.

Sequeira suggests staying open with body posture. “Do not cross arms, cross legs, lean backwards in the chair or look down too much. Those are seen as negative non-verbals and may make the interviewer feel uncomfortable, which may not work in the interviewee’s favor.”

“Come prepared, have a resumé …don’t come unshaven, don’t come with your hair not combed, don’t come without a belt,” Richardson says. He also recommends being consistent with engaging the interviewer throughout the process.

The initial handshake begins the first-impression and a firm and personable handshake is an initial step toward a successful interview according to Anthony Balderrama of

A University of Iowa study on handshakes conducted by Doctor Greg Stewart concluded that students whose handshakes rated higher were also the ones with a better chance of being hired.

Appearance and clothing can send strong non-verbal cues to interviewers. “You can never be overdressed … you can always be underdressed,” Richardson says. Color cues can psychologically affect an applicant’s interview. The career advice section of suggests wearing blue, gray and black with white undershirts. Despite popular belief, avoiding red might be wise.

According to Elsa Mason, CSN psychology instructor, another thing to consider is that body-language might vary from culture to culture and certain cues might be misinterpreted if the interviewers or applicants are not prepared. “In western culture, we demand eye-contact and sometimes we don’t realize that other cultures, to them, it’s disrespectful,” Mason says.

“If it is engrained in you, you’re going to succeed with very little effort. If it’s not engrained in you, you can still overcome the challenge. It’s just going to take a lot more effort,” Richardson concludes.

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