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Nonverbal Interview Behavior

Non-verbal interview behavior can drown out your verbal self-presentation.

Practice interviewing in front of a full-length mirror or, better yet, videotape yourself if you have access to such equipment. Turn the sound down and watch yourself carefully.

How do you sit in your chair? Upright with an aura of energy and enthusisam or slumped as if you no longer care? Do you maintain good eye contact or look down at your hands when a question is difficult to answer? Do you lean forward to make a connection with the interviewer or appear distant and disconnected? Do you use your hands for an occasional gesture, to emphasize a point, or are they always in motion, as distractible as those ex-jocks on TV who constantly flail away regardless of what they are saying?

Can you cross your legs at the ankle and stay still or do you constantly shift in your chair and irritate everyone in the room? Do you have unconscious habits or mannerisms that distract from your professional demeanor such as twisting your hair, rubbing your nose, licking your lips, or cracking your knuckles? How is your voice? Is it monotonous, clear, nasal, or shrill? Do you smile - at appropriate moments not constantly like a beauty contestant on the runway?

Being aware of all that you are presenting to a potential employer can make your verbal presentation more effective and increase your chances for a successful outcome.

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at or

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