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Body Language and Job Interviews

RiverSong

Spoilers
During my job search, I've noticed a pattern from the articles I'm reading about interviewing tips, prep, advice, etc. Many websites have advice on body language do's and don'ts during an interview. I thought, well, this might be interesting stuff to learn. Only to find out that a lot of my own body language is apparently viewed negatively by hiring managers.

According to a CNN Money article titled "These job interview mistakes will guarantee you don't get hired," the following body language is considered to be a big no-no. The article says:

It isn't just what you say that can hurt your chances from getting hired, body language also plays a role.

Two-thirds of employers said failure to make eye contact is a mistake that can dampen a candidate's chances of getting an offer. More than 30% said not smiling, playing with something on the table, fidgeting too much and bad posture are also common mistakes.

Keep your hand movements in check: 26% of employers said too much face or hair touching can be an issue, while a weak handshake and too many hand gestures can also be problematic.

While playing up your professional success and applicable experience is crucial during an interview, it's also important to come across as personable.

"Work culture is such an important topic, [employers] want to see not only do you know how to do the job, but also are you a good fit to work with...it I not just about what's on the paper."

And if you do make a mistake (interviews can be nerve-racking!), the best option is to own it, fix it and move on, suggested Erwin.

"Take a breath correct what you said, if you need to you can ask to step out of the room and collect yourself and come back. If you prepared, you will feel much more comfortable."​

So... I guess the body language mentioned above is considered a bad habit or mistake that needs to be fixed and corrected? o_O

Because I pretty much do all of those things. Except for the weak handshake. My handshaking skills are on point. And I can pull off the eye contact thing thanks to years of practice. But the rest? Nah. Most of these habits aren't things I even think about.

Not to mention, there are plenty of other articles that say pretty much the same...

Flexjobs on "5 Body Language Habits You Should Ditch Before a Job Interview."

Reader's Digest on "15 Body Language Mistakes You Make During Job Interviews."

Forbes on "10 Body Language Tics That Could Cost You The Interview" and "Interview Body Language Mistakes That Can Cost You The Job."

CareerBuilder on "What your body language is saying about you in your interview."

Now, I wasn't aware that body language/behavior played such a huge factor in the hiring process. I am aware that the person interviewing me can dislike me for a number of reasons. Or that most hiring managers aren't necessarily looking for the person who's most qualified for the job but someone that fits in with their work culture, who they like personally.

Granted this isn't the case with all employers and perhaps the career field makes a difference. But with the flood of articles out there, my own experience, and the experience of other's I've asked about this, I'd say the whole likeability factor plays a large role.

What I suppose NTs consider to be "poor body language" is a sign that a person is ill-equipped for the job, unlikable, and off-putting. Basically, someone who meets the job requirements but lacks the desired body language will be overlooked for someone who's more favorable, likeable.

Any thoughts?
 
This is why there is so much incompetence out there. Hiring people not because they can do the job, but how little they fidget makes no sense at all. Not how I would do things if I owned a business.
 
Doesn’t seem fair does it?

I’m guessing an interview may demonstrate how well someone performs under pressure particularly the 3, 4, 5 person panel?

A chance to show off enthusiasm, knowledge, skills, experience and some warm approachability.

The trouble I’ve had is that I can focus my fidgeting to my left hand which will be hidden under the desk or a jacket draped over it,
(My cuticles may be bleeding by the end of the interview)
And I can blag ‘warm, friendly and humour’
Six months down the line I will start to relax and be me.

I get ‘can I have a word’ usually to do with attitude approaching the 9 - 12 month mark.
(Can’t fault my work)

All because I blagged the ‘me’ that sat the interview.
They hired an actor.
Haven’t quite worked out how to be myself and be accepted during interview.
 
I've never liked the interview part of the job search process. To me your resume should be what gets you hired, not how you do on an interview.
 
This is why there is so much incompetence out there. Hiring people not because they can do the job, but how little they fidget makes no sense at all. Not how I would do things if I owned a business.

Yes, exactly. What does my fidgeting, not smiling, etc. have to do with my ability to do the job and do it well? It makes no sense.

Doesn’t seem fair does it?

I’m guessing an interview may demonstrate how well someone performs under pressure particularly the 3, 4, 5 person panel?

A chance to show off enthusiasm, knowledge, skills, experience and some warm approachability.

The trouble I’ve had is that I can focus my fidgeting to my left hand which will be hidden under the desk or a jacket draped over it,
(My cuticles may be bleeding by the end of the interview)
And I can blag ‘warm, friendly and humour’
Six months down the line I will start to relax and be me.

I get ‘can I have a word’ usually to do with attitude approaching the 9 - 12 month mark.
(Can’t fault my work)

All because I blagged the ‘me’ that sat the interview.
They hired an actor.
Haven’t quite worked out how to be myself and be accepted during interview.

This all seems heavily skewed towards NT traits and expectations. If you don't fit into these expectations then you're rejected. That's definitely not fair and shouldn't be a determining factor in whether you are hired or not.

I haven't done a panel interview and hope I never do. I also tend to fiddle with my nails or clothing during an interview. I try my best to hide this behavior and mask other things, like making eye contact or trying to mirror the interviewer. Like, not cracking a joke if the interviewer is dead serious, etc. I will adjust to their personality.

But, like you said, all of this just leads to putting on an act, which doesn't last.
 
I understand this, and have had issues.

A firm handshake is essential at a job interview (my father and grandfather place a lot of signifigance in a handshake), yet I would not shake hands firmly if I saw that someone was elderly and/or had arthritic hands...and I would like to believe that I wouldn't hold arthritis against someone in an interview.

If everyone can understand this, then why is the eye contact thing allowed to interfere with us getting a job that we're qualified for?
 
This is why there is so much incompetence out there. Hiring people not because they can do the job, but how little they fidget makes no sense at all. Not how I would do things if I owned a business.

If they turned down a disabled candidate because they were fidgeting, in theory that person could then sue the pants off the company for blatant discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act.

But of course I've been saying for years that that Act has no teeth because the government don't enforce it.
 
Any thoughts?

Well, being an aspie can sometimes be advantageous. I'm a good mimic, and in interviews for jobs I've used that. In one particular job that I really wanted, and got.
I found a personal biography on the company's owner, and found that some of his interests were similar to mine. Cycling for instance. When I was finally interviewed by him, on second interview I went by bike and brought my cycling helmet in with me. Which created a connection right away.
During another, and this is extreme, I watched the interviews going on from a vantage point. Where I could see the habits and postures of the interviewer. I matched mine to his, the way he held his pen, the way he crossed his legs and moved his foot slightly. I even synchronized my breathing to his. The way he spoke, I also copied, taking the same slight pauses at times.
I also got that job.
 
I've never liked the interview part of the job search process. To me your resume should be what gets you hired, not how you do on an interview.
Yes, I think people should be hired based on their resume/skills/experience and not on how likeable you seem during an interview.
 
I understand this, and have had issues.

A firm handshake is essential at a job interview (my father and grandfather place a lot of signifigance in a handshake), yet I would not shake hands firmly if I saw that someone was elderly and/or had arthritic hands...and I would like to believe that I wouldn't hold arthritis against someone in an interview.

If everyone can understand this, then why is the eye contact thing allowed to interfere with us getting a job that we're qualified for?
Exactly. The hiring process is pretty flawed and biased.
 
Well, being an aspie can sometimes be advantageous. I'm a good mimic, and in interviews for jobs I've used that. In one particular job that I really wanted, and got.
I found a personal biography on the company's owner, and found that some of his interests were similar to mine. Cycling for instance. When I was finally interviewed by him, on second interview I went by bike and brought my cycling helmet in with me. Which created a connection right away.
During another, and this is extreme, I watched the interviews going on from a vantage point. Where I could see the habits and postures of the interviewer. I matched mine to his, the way he held his pen, the way he crossed his legs and moved his foot slightly. I even synchronized my breathing to his. The way he spoke, I also copied, taking the same slight pauses at times.
I also got that job.
Haha, that sounds like a great skill to have. :D

I don't think I could do that. I don't pay attention to people enough or have the skills to copy them so well.

But one thing I wonder about is why do we have to mimic/mirror, put on masks, and act like someone else just to get a job? Why can't I be myself, present my resume, and be hired or rejected based on how my skills and experience match up to the job? Why all of the other social mind games?
 
But one thing I wonder about is why do we have to mimic/mirror, put on masks, and act like someone else just to get a job? Why can't I be myself, present my resume, and be hired or rejected based on how my skills and experience match up to the job? Why all of the other social mind games?

Probably because most people applying for a particular job, have similar skills and experience. So in some way you have to get the attention of the interviewer to get them to notice you as an individual. It's even better if you have something in common with them, or you interest them enough so they want to get to know you. It's a cult of personality very often along with the qualifications. Depends on the industry and the company as well.
 
Probably because most people applying for a particular job, have similar skills and experience. So in some way you have to get the attention of the interviewer to get them to notice you as an individual. It's even better if you have something in common with them, or you interest them enough so they want to get to know you. It's a cult of personality very often along with the qualifications. Depends on the industry and the company as well.
Yes, you're totally right. It's a cult of personality and it does depend on the industry.

My issue is that being oneself during an interview and having what others call incorrect body language, means not getting hired. Fidgeting, not smiling, making "incorrect" eye contact, etc. gets a person overlooked. Or in my own previous case, insulted for not looking the interviewer in the eye while I was speaking (I've since learned how to appear better at this).

Basically, copying the behavior of the interviewer might earn more favor but it's not because the interviewer is deciding on the applicant's skills or even professional appearance, like wearing a suit rather than casual clothes to the interview.

The interviewer ends up looking at someone who is mirroring their own behavior and presenting someone that they like - a reflection of the interviewer. So, it's not really standing out from the other applicants by getting the interviewer to notice you as an individual. It's how good are you at getting the interviewer to like the act you're putting on.

Like, @Gracey said above, "They hired an actor." Once the act fades and we settle into being ourselves, then problems arise. I've had coworkers suddenly turn on me because I put down my mask.

So what is someone on the spectrum to do? Keep acting? That gets tiring and can't be maintained for too long. Or be ourselves and hope to eventually get hired? I've been out of work for a little over a year now. Should I get assistance? I don't qualify since I don't have a professional diagnosis and don't seem "autistic" enough.

I'm not saying I'm giving up. I'm still applying to jobs and even have a somewhat optimistic outlook. But clearly the hiring process of many employers is unfair.
 
The interviewer ends up looking at someone who is mirroring their own behavior and presenting someone that they like - a reflection of the interviewer. So, it's not really standing out from the other applicants by getting the interviewer to notice you as an individual. It's how good are you at getting the interviewer to like the act you're putting on.

But in doing so, by mirroring, without the person understanding what you are doing. You might seem familiar to them. And people like familiarity. They sometimes look for people who are like them. Or may be a good fit, with the rest of the employees.

Standing out, shouldn't be obvious. Getting noticed doesn't necessarily mean acting differently. It could mean unusual skills or interests. Have I mentioned that I've been on over a hundred interviews and worked all my life? I think it's more a question of fitting in for the interview only, after that you learn and do your job.

I think unless you are working for Aspies, this will apply to most jobs that you do. There are alternatives though, like starting your own business.
 
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But in doing so, by mirroring, without the person understanding what you are doing. You might seem familiar to them. And people like familiarity. They sometimes look for people who are like them. Or may be a good fit, with the rest of the employees.
Yes, but I think this is part of the problem (Not directed at you, Mia :)). What I'm driving at is, how is having everyone in the workplace be similar a good thing? Why should a test of conformity be an active part of the hiring process?

So, because I'm different then I won't be a good fit for that employer's work culture? Why is my difference a bad thing? Difference can lead to new insights, opinions, and challenges to the status quo. Because I'm different doesn't default me to being a horrible employee.

Of the jobs I have had, I've been great at them, even if it wasn't work I enjoyed. I did my job well. It was coworkers that had problems with me being different.

It makes no sense that because my body language is "incorrect" or unfamiliar to the interviewer then I'm considered a no go for the job and that workplace's culture.

Standing out, shouldn't be obvious. Getting noticed doesn't necessarily mean acting differently. It could mean unusual skills or interests. Have I mentioned that I've been on over a hundred interviews and worked all my life? I think it's more a question of fitting in for the interview only, after that you learn and do your job.

Having unusual skills or interests applicable to the job is great. The problem is having to play the part/masking behaviors just to fit in or try to appeal to someone for a job.

I understand that fitting in with society's social norms seems important to folks. And that we might have to copy "typical" behavior in order to not be ostracized. But does that make this ideal conformity right, especially when it comes to jobs? Like, this is how the hiring process is and that's it; don't question it. Maybe I am wrong to question why. But the hiring process seems pretty flawed to me. o_O

I have also been on many interviews, I lost count, and have only gotten 2 jobs through the interview process. The other jobs I've had didn't involve interviews, which was very fortunate. Basically, direct interviews have been terrible for me.

It is great that you have been able to work all of your life. I wish I could say the same.

I think unless you are working for Aspies, this will apply to most jobs that you do. There are alternatives though, like starting your own business.

I hope to start my own business in the near future but in the meantime, I need steady income to move forward in life. That's what I'm trying to do right now and I hope to get a job soon.
 
I understand that fitting in with society's social norms seems important to folks. And that we might have to copy "typical" behavior in order to not be ostracized. But does that make this ideal conformity right, especially when it comes to jobs? Like, this is how the hiring process is and that's it; don't question it. Maybe I am wrong to question why. But the hiring process seems pretty flawed to me.

I suspect that kowtowing to 'society's norms' makes you a good drone. Really that's what wanted by some sorts of companies. Not to question, only to do what is required. It's your right to question everything.

Once worked for a company that printed art posters, which was different, more open to new ideas, less conventional, more haphazard in their rules. But also less reliable with paychecks. Working for a more conventional company where you do a certain type of task, with no deviation is boring. There's little room to progress and keep you interested and learning. One of the things a mundane job does though is allow you to use your mind as it's rarely engaged on the job. You are not as intellectually wrung out, and can do more interesting things when not working.

After many years, I eventually understood that I don't do well working with or for others. I ran a bistro for some time and also sold art in a cooperative setting. Prefer working alone.
 
Unfortunately, if you want to get the job, you can't look at it as far as what is right or fair. You have to try and appear the best choice for the job, by their standards.
 
I don't see why subtleties in body language should be such a big deal, but they are. I never got why wearing a tie is so important, or what it's purpose is. Or, as a woman, why I apparently have to wear silly, uncomfortable shoes that I can't walk, or work in. makes no sense. Unfortunately, usually, if you want the job, you need to play it by their rules.
 
I don't see why subtleties in body language should be such a big deal, but they are. I never got why wearing a tie is so important, or what it's purpose is. Or, as a woman, why I apparently have to wear silly, uncomfortable shoes that I can't walk, or work in. makes no sense. Unfortunately, usually, if you want the job, you need to play it by their rules.

If you're like me and can'r so a proper tie, just get a "clip on" one, most people in "high powered" positions get clip on ties for safety, like if you wear a clip on, you can't get strangled, as you could with a proper tie.
 
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