Communicating Without Speaking

by Brian Skory

Technology candidates have heard about all the things we should say during an interview, but sometimes it can be valuable to take a look at what we are communicating when we’re not talking. A recent survey of 20,000 bosses brought to light the following statistics regarding candidates:

  • 67% fail to make eye contact
  • 26% have a handshake that is too weak
  • 38% never smile

Making eye contact is something that most people recognize as a skill they either have or lack. If you fall into the lack category, you can and should make a conscious effort to make eye contact during your interviews. This can be practiced with grocery store clerks and restaurant servers until you‘re able to do it comfortably.

On the topic of handshakes, there seems to be a myth out there that women’s hands should be grasped sideways and lightly—almost the way you would if you were going to kiss her hand. Most women will tell you that this kind of a handshake is odd. Shake a woman’s hand the same as you would a man’s.

There were many more statistics, but a few stood out and reminded me of a couple of other things that send an incorrect message to an interviewer.

State of your clothes.
The technology industry isn’t generally thought of as the fashion mecca of the world, but according to the survey mentioned above, 65% of bosses said that clothing could be the deciding factor between hiring one candidate over another. You don’t need to break the bank to avoid appearing “wardrobe challenged,” but it certainly doesn’t hurt to make sure that what you are wearing is from this century and has recently been pressed. You can and should ask for the dress code before you interview.

Take a breath and collect yourself.
Being nervous in an interview is natural and we all express our nervousness in different ways. Some people will talk more than usual, others will clam up and hardly talk at all. And some people will begin fidgeting—with their hair, their pen, or whatever else is within reach. In fact, the survey above showed that interviewers felt that 33% of candidates fidgeted too much. Train yourself to take a deep breath and mentally relax yourself for just a moment before your interview begins.

As always, we at Stout Systems are interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to drop us an email at
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