How can I read the optical body language

Career & Salary

As a team leader in IT, you will also be present at job interviews and will then be asked for your opinion on the respective applicant. It is important to know: A particularly large amount of information is provided in the job interview by what the candidate does not say but unconsciously expresses through his facial expressions or gestures.

Very few say in conversations, and especially in job interviews, what they think and how they feel. But even when we are silent, our body speaks. As Paul Watzlawick said: "You can't not communicate." In plain language this means: our body language very often reveals what we think and feel. In this way, our interlocutors or HR managers receive a lot of information in job interviews that goes far beyond the spoken word. Body language, facial expressions and gestures can quickly arouse sympathy for someone, but the opposite can also be the case.

When you are in a job interview, it can be irritating if something is not right; For example, the non-verbal signals do not match the statements and the rest of the image of the applicant. Depending on whether facial expressions, body language, voice and the verbal statements match or not, one speaks of congruent or incongruent behavior.

An example: You are explaining to the applicant which tasks belong to his new job. He replies that he's really looking forward to it. But his face looks like seven days of rain or as if something bad had happened. In this case, facial expressions and the verbal statement do not match, there is no congruence.

Or a coherent image is created and thus credibility and authenticity, which play a decisive role in an application. In job interviews or in any kind of self-presentation, your effect depends enormously on facial expressions, gestures, posture, movements and voice.

The first impression comes in a flash

This also means that applicants often do not fail because of their professional qualifications. The professional suitability is usually already checked against the application documents in the preselection and is usually the reason for the invitation to an interview. In this meeting, in addition to professional aptitude, the respective personality is important. It is precisely these "little things" and non-verbal signals in the encounter that quickly lead to a feeling and impression of the applicant and are used as a basis for decision-making.

Speaking of impression: This so-called first impression is created within a few moments. Pay attention to how quickly it goes for you: you see a person, and whether you like it or not, you will have a first impression in no time without even exchanging a word: sympathetic, friendly, unfriendly, arrogant , arrogant, self-confident, concentrated, bored, insecure ...

The greeting as the first yardstick

Even the greeting in the interview is meaningful. Pay attention to the applicant's body language: How does he enter the meeting room: rather happy, motivated, stormy or perhaps cautious? Smiling or bitter, light-footed or with a steady step, unsure? Is there eye contact? How's the handshake? Does the outfit fit? Eye contact, handshake and body posture, in addition to the visual appearance, determine the proverbial first impression you get of your conversation partner. The outfit can also say a lot about the candidate's attitude and awareness of the position sought. Regardless of clothing, of course, a well-groomed appearance is important.

Here, too, the old sentence applies: clothes make the man - also or especially during job interviews. Eye contact and a smile also provide a good foundation. In addition, the following applies: Neither a slack handshake, long handshake, nor too firm a handshake are helpful. A professional handshake takes around three to four seconds.

Seek direct eye contact

However, it is also important not to infer the nature of the applicant simply and too quickly based on a certain posture or facial expression. Rather, one should pay more attention to these "little things" and try to perceive changes in the situation, in the topic or in the answer to a question.

The most important thing here is the face - that is, the facial expressions and also the body language in the important moments. These are situations in which you say something and the applicant reacts or speaks freely. Maintain eye contact here as this is extremely important in communication between people. On the one hand, eye contact signals interest and attention. On the other hand, a person's eyes are very meaningful and informative. Direct eye contact therefore helps to "read" the other.


  1. Facial expressions, gestures or posture have a great influence on the credibility and impact of a person in the meeting. However, very few are aware of this. Here are four tips to look out for in meetings.
  2. Tip 1: open posture
    Maintain an open posture and use calm and not too sweeping gestures. Be careful not to make too many hectic hand movements.
  3. Tip 2: make eye contact
    Always keep your body turned towards the person you are speaking to. If you have more than one person, turn to the person with whom you are currently communicating.
  4. Tip 3: attention
    Show interest and attention - listen actively, nod in agreement, keep eye contact, let the other person finish speaking.
  5. Tip 4: ask
    If you consciously or unconsciously perceive something that you cannot assign at this moment, which is not clear and unambiguous for you, ask in order to prevent misunderstandings, prejudices and possible conflicts.

As much as one might want to hide or control thoughts and feelings, the eyes tell far more than one thinks. An example: Many people very often put on a smile as a mask, especially in job interviews - so the question often arises: Is it real joy or is it just a social smile? The eyes are part of real joy. The eye ring muscles become active. This means that the typical small wrinkles appear around the eyes and they appear smaller. With a mock smile, the cheeks are pushed up from the bottom, sometimes only on one side and usually without the eyes being involved. Is that an expression of real joy in the applicant about the new job?

Or you notice that your counterpart becomes restless in certain situations or with one or the other question, for example. His posture, his facial expressions change suddenly. Then it is helpful to ask and be more specific. Clarify what you cannot assign to what you do not understand. If you don't do that, you will probably leave the conversation with a rather uncomfortable feeling because you noticed that something was there, but I don't know, it's just a feeling. But then it is usually too late.