How HR managers should interpret body language when interviewing?

Is body language a science?

As an HR professional, you know how to interview job applicants and staff seeking a promotion. But, do you believe that the body language of the person sitting in front of you can be properly interpreted and give you useful insights to make an informed hiring decision?

For many years, a popular seminar promised HR professionals instant insights by learning how to interpret body signals easily. Yet, such insights are only possible when several other factors are considered.

What are these factors and how can they help you during an interview?

To develop an understanding of body language, you need a baseline. This means determining the normal behaviour of an individual or a group. But, even if reactions from this norm are observed, the meaning behind such reactions is not necessarily known.

Even more difficult to understand is unintentional body language. If a person’s face turns red when asked a question, is this a sign of embarrassment, shock or guilt? You need to know something of the person’s culture to understand their self-conscious reactions.

Some examples:

Eye contact. In the West, maintaining eye contact is an indication of trustworthiness; but in Asian cultures, looking away is a mark of respect.

Rapid eye blinking or narrowed lips might be the result of stress or discomfort, they do not necessarily indicate deception.

Unless Social anxiety is properly diagnosed before your meeting, their symptoms and behaviour might seem suspicious and guilty when they are not.

Therefore, reading body language is more an art than a science. You need to understand more about the person being interviewed before the interview even starts.

We can help you conduct better interviews and hire with confidence. For more information visit our Background Intelligence services.