Body Language for Recruiters

Sure, you can get a lot of information from the internet about your candidates. But none of that really prepares you to know what they’re like  in person? Are there signs that you should know that you may have missed? In today’s Blab, we discussed body language communication cues that can help you decipher where a deal is going before it happens.

Rock Your Body: Body Language for Recruiters

Much of what we went over was adapted from the Anthony Awerbuch article posted on LinkedIn, “Listen so others will speak – 7 Nonverbal Techniques.” If you’re feeling lazy, here’s a recap.

  1. Head Tilt

Nothing says “I am listening to you” more than a simple head tilt. Use this when you need to deliver bad news or when someone on your team is experiencing a crisis. If you have a dog at home, see if he tilts his head when you are speaking. Most people, at least the ones with a heart, find this endearing. That head tilt inspires the same feelings in human relationships.

      2. Triple nod

If the head tilt says “I am listening,” then the triple nod says “I hear you, I understand and please keep speaking.” Research shows that when we nod 3 times after someone is done speaking they will generally speak up to 4 times longer. So if you want someone to confess or be more forth-coming, use this tactic. And remember, the evil twin of the slow triple nod is the fast and impatient nod that says, “for goodness sakes just get to the point!”

     3. Mouth

  • Mouths are for speaking, that is true, but they are also for listening. You can demonstrate that you accept what you are hearing, reject what you are hearing or show restraint from interruption.To show that you accept what is being said, keep your mouth relaxed, your lips slightly parted and unobstructed by your hands.
  • Holding your hand or finger over your mouth as this says that you might be thinking more about your response than you are listening and that you are holding back on voicing your opinion.
  • Lip Purse – closing your lips tightly says loud and clear that you are unhappy about what you are hearing.
  • Puckered lips – This looks like you are preparing your lips for a kiss, but of course it will be evident that you aren’t because of the absence of a slight smile. Puckered lips says that you are considering what is being said. Move your puckered lips from side to side, and now you’re saying that you’re considering alternatives.

       4. Eye contact

When we make good Eye Contact we demonstrate that we are paying attention and that we are engaged. The opposite message is communicated when we check our email when a colleague is speaking to us – we might as well tell him to go tell someone who cares.

  • A good rule of thumb here is to engage in eye contact 70 % of the time – 7 seconds out of every 10. Much more than that is creepy.
  • Eye contact is very intimate (not necessarily sexual) and so it’s a lot harder to remain upset with someone who is engaging in eye contact. If you find that you are unable to look someone in the eye, or they are unable to look you in the eye – something may be wrong.

     5. Proxemics Distance

Proxemics is a fancy term that describes the space between us. When we come closer we indicate that we like someone. If we don’t like them, we will put space between us. This action is tied to our brain’s flight response. It will manifest in the office, when you suddenly lean back during a meeting. Pay attention to this reliable cue and ask yourself what just got you bothered.

    6. Open body

When you show an open body, you indicate that you are open to your partner. Cross your arms and you are literally placing a barrier. It’s the most common protective mechanism and is used universally. Even when it is in response to cold weather, it’s protective and therefore no matter how comfortable it feels, we can all agree that we will be perceived as being closed off.

     7. Fronting and feet

Finally, the angle of our bodies makes it very clear if we are open to someone or to what they are saying. When we face someone head on it is called “Fronting” and studies have shown that it makes us seem more honest. You might want to consider this principle when you choose your LinkedIn profile picture.

About Our Guests

cee372be-c321-4af4-a5fc-845cf7ff694eAnthony Awerbuch is a certified professional Body Language Trainer. He served in the South African Army College where he had his first encounter with body language in a military police interrogation. He traveled extensively in the Middle East as he worked in many varied vocations including security and construction.

He immigrated to the US in 1998 where he has enjoyed a successful corporate career and gained extensive experience in managing people and developing talent and when he became a sought-after coach and mentor in the workplace he knew it was time to make the big move from Operational Accounting to training.You can reach out to him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

stephenStephen O’Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer. A fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (REC).
He is also responsible for the National Online Recruitment Awards (NORAs). In his free time Stephen operates PCEvaluate a psychometric profiling company. Reach out to him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


By Jackye Clayton

Jackye is an acclaimed thought leader and inspirational speaker on recruiting and DEIB topics. She brings years of experience recruiting across a variety of industries including tech, HR, legal, and finance. In her role as VP of Talent Acquisition and DEIB, she leads all related work at Textio, provides critical expertise to customers, and serves as a leading voice in the products Textio creates for the broader ecosystem. Jackye has been named one of the 9 Powerful Women in Business You Should Know by SDHR Consulting, one of the 15 Women in HR Tech to Follow by VidCruiter, and is on the Top 100 list of Human Resources Influencers by Human Resource Executive Magazine.