I do a lot of interviewing with my work. Because of this, I want to ensure that both my team and I are demonstrating best practice whenever we interview, and there are so many different facets to delivering a great investigatory interiew.
This week, I’ve been searching the internet for videos on non-verbal communication skills whilst interviewing on MS Teams or via Zoom. I’ve found lots for those going for job interviews. I’ve found lots on non-verbal communication skills when meeting in real life. But nothing that’s for interviewers and nothing for when the interview is on-line.
For me, it is different when you’re interviewing on-line. The majority of our interviewees are now really comfortable speaking on-line (either because they’ve done so through work, or because they’ve spoken with family & friends on-line during the pandemic), but as interviewers we still owe it to them to make it feel like we’re in the room with them as they talk about what they’ve observed and how this has impacted them.
The traditional advice and guidance on non-verbal communication doesn’t always work on-line. For example, we’re told to “lean in” when someone is telling you something interesting. Not so easy when you’re both behind a computer screen. I could lean in, but I think that would look wierd and the interviewee would have a close up of my face that perhaps they weren’t expecting. (I don’t want to be like Gary Barlow in the lock-down duets, althougth *disclaimer* I love Gary and Take That).
In essence, when we’re interviewing on-line, we are limited to what our face is saying. We can’t rely on any other body language. We have to rely on our face saying everything: encouraging the interviewee; showing that we’re engaged and listening; showing that we have empathy and compassion for what they are telling us.
If we don’t use our face during interviews to communicate, the interviewee may feel that they are boring us or that we’re not listening. That is the last thing we want. We want our interviewees to feel that they have our full attention and that we care about what they are saying.
When we distill what non-verbal communication looks like on-line, to show to the interviewee that we’re engaged and listening, I think it involves:
- Ensuring that we’re smiling (not constantly, or like a cheshire cat, but showing that we’re enjoying the conversation)
- Nodding our head on a regular basis – to show that we’re in agreement, or to encourage the interviewee to carry on speaking.
- Saying “U-hm”, or “a-ha” ever so often – not enough to interrupt their flow, but enough to show that we’re following what they are saying.
- Using facial expressions – like raising our eyebrows in surprise, or furrowing them when we’re confused.
If you have any other tips for interviewers on how to ensure that they are demonstrating non-verbal active listening skills during interviews, please do share!