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Watch your mimicry during a job application

How well can you read others? And how well can others read you? Often, what you feel on the inside is what you can see on the outside. Read on to avoid mistakes and learn a little more on body language and what you should consider during a job interview.

Facial expressions
Facial expressions are the most reliable source to see what someone really feels in daily communication. They can show happiness, sadness, anger, fear and more. Reading these expressions is essential when it comes to compassion and empathetic conversations. Fuijmoto’s research in 1972 showed that eye contact, in combination with facial expressions and other body movements, is the dominant source of emotional meaning of a message. When words and eye signals of an observed person give a contradictory message, the eye contact is chosen as a more reliable source of information.

The part of our brain that is best specialised in facial expressions is located in the right hemisphere, and sends conscious movements to the left side of our body. Therefore you can see faked emotions more clearly on the left side of the body. A false smile will be more pronounced on the left side of the face.

The eyes and the power of persuasion
» Keeping eye contact between 60% and 80% of the time creates trust, as looking into someone’s eyes is a sign of honesty
» Good liars know this and intentionally keep lengthy eye contact with their interlocutor however other mismatches between their body language and words will indicate the lies
» Create trust, connect with your interlocutor and show interest, large pupils indicate interest, positivity, but can also point to fear » Small pupils indicate a lack of interest and negative emotions. If you don’t like the recruiter in front of you, you might have a negative unconscious response
» Pulling the eyebrows down, with vertical creases above the nose can indicate dissatisfaction, anger or an unpleasant surprise. Candidates who display this are selected less often
» A sideways look, with eyebrows down or the corners of the mouth up. This can indicate disbelief, unwillingness, distrust of disapproval. This can seem hostile or negative.

Pursing of the lips
By pursing your lips you show controlled anger, loss or lack of acceptance. For example when a contract proposal does not match expectations. Pursed lips may also mean that someone is refusing to tell something. The pursed lips point to the firmness of the decision not to speak.

The smile
Job motivation plays in important role in recruiting. As Talent Specialist, I easily read the thinking and doing of candidates and what their primary motivators are. With pleasure both corners of the mouth move up symmetrically. It is very important that you notice this micro expression as a recruiter.

As a candidate it is important to understand your driving forces, to have insight into who you are, why you do what you do and to which culture you belong. Using this knowledge you can adapt your communication style to that of the recruiter. You know exactly what gives you energy and can thus prevent you from working in an organisation where you do not belong.

For example, what if durability is an important job aspect for you, and the company’s website states that the company is committed to it. By asking the right questions, observing the body language and make correct interpretations, you can conclude that the company is only using it as a marketing purpose, or if they are indeed transparent and practice what they preach.

What can you do as a candidate?
“Know exactly what to say at the right time to be successful” “People don’t buy products, they buy you” Remember that the best salesmen are body language experts.

Lisa comes in for a job application and says “My previous employer was very pleased (missed expression of contempt) with my research”. If the HR manager misses the micro expression, he will make a wrong choice. But if the HR manager understands the code of body language, he will know exactly which questions he has to ask to see where that contempt is coming from

Written by Nancy Wijnants
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