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Verbal and non-verbal communication

Verbal and non-verbal communication

Smile when appropriate during the interview. Be enthusiastic and responsive. As you talk about your past and present activities, your passion and energy can be communicated both through your words and your body language (e.g., an excited tone of voice, leaning forward, nodding your head in agreement). As you are comfortable, make eye contact with the interviewer(s) throughout the interview.

Sit comfortably, without slouching. Don’t put anything on your lap or in your hands if it will restrict your natural body movement or if you may be tempted to play with it.

Respond to questions specifically and concisely but give sufficient details to enable the interviewer to evaluate your credentials. Interviewers can become frustrated when they have to listen to long, disorganized answers. Think before you speak. It is quite acceptable to pause before talking in order to organize your thoughts. Avoid verbal fillers such as “um,” “ah,” “you know,” or regularly repeating the question to provide thinking time.

Use professional language. Avoid slang. Speak clearly. Watch the interviewer for any clues on how the interview is progressing. Is the interviewer’s face or body language telling you that they are interested in your answers and want to hear more or if they are becoming disinterested because of the amount of detail included in your answers. If in doubt, ask the interviewer if more or fewer details are needed.

Prepare in advance to talk about any topic that you are concerned or feel uncomfortable about. Practise your answer out loud often enough to feel confident. Maintain poise and self-control. Consider a difficult issue as a learning opportunity that has made you a better person.

University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development