We hope you are doing focused preparation for every job interview–researching out about the company, planning your stories, thinking of interesting questions to ask the hiring manager and roleplaying some typical job interview questions with a friend. Make sure to also prepare your non-verbal communication–it can be more significant than anything you say.

According to UCLA Psychology Professor and communications expert Albert Mehrabi, words only account for 7% of the communication in human interactions when communicating about feelings and attitudes. Seven percent.

How can you use that to improve your job interview performance?

Of course, not everything you will talk about in an interview involves feelings or attitudes, but since emotions are running high and you are telling stories about yourself, we think this kind of communication qualifies for the 7% rule. So:

  • Breathe deeply and consciously while you are waiting to be called in to the interview. This will help your tone of voice be as full and confident as possible. Another good reason to arrive a few minutes early.
  • Practice your delivery as well as the content of your stories with a trusted friend. Ask for feedback about your tone and body language as well as the story itself.
  • Make good eye contact with the hiring manager, both while you are listening and while you are talking–it makes you seem as engaged as you (hopefully) are.
  • Match your non-verbal communication styles with your your words. The more congruence, the better you will be trusted.
  • Let pauses happen in the conversation. Jumping in with more words than necessary can dilute your message.

My favorite thing about Dr. Mehrabi’s system is knowing that if I stumble over a word or tell a story better in one interview than another, as long as my non-verbal communication is successful, I will be, too–a great comfort when I walk out of the office hoping to get an offer.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative