Eye by Flavia Dobraca

Eye See You

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

Interviewing or being interviewed relies not solely on the explicit meaning of words, but most often involves implicit messages expressed through non-verbal behaviors.

Non-verbal communication includes body movements (kinesics, gestures displayed through body language), posture, eye contact, tone and pitch of the voice (para-language), physical distance between communicators (proxemics), facial expressions and physiological changes.


Take a Quiz: Body Language in Interviews

Don’t take this quiz too seriously of course: non-verbal communication is notoriously open to misinterpretation – even by experts. The key point to take from this exercise is that how you act is at least as important in an interview as what you say!


Having done the exercise above and bearing in mind that you should not start imagining a hidden meaning in every gesture (carefully evaluate the situation – a group of gestures may be significant, but random ones aren’t likely to have any real meaning), you will find below a brief ‘guide’ on how to interpret some non-verbal communication patterns:

Surprise (Lie to Me)


  • leaning back
  • elongating legs or throwing arm(s) across the back of the chair


  • leaning forward
  • chopping, finger pointing motions
  • staring

Sadness (Lie to Me)


  • leaning back
  • slouching
  • sloppy posture

Defensive / Disengaged

  • crossed arm over the chest

Happiness (Lie to Me)


  • hands in the pockets or hands behind the back
  • not smiling at all

Lying / Dishonest / Untrustworthy / Insecure

  • shifty eyes
  • breaking eye contact
  • rubbing or touching nose, lips or ears
  • excessively playing with the hair
  • clearing throat
  • excessively using “uhs” and “ums”
  • changing voice pitch and volume
  • use over-complex sentences and having trouble to get to the point

Fear (Lie to Me)

Unable to stay focused / Uncomfortable / Nervous / Insecure

  • rocking back in the chair, shaking foot, drumming fingers or scratching …
  • crossing legs and idly shake one over the other
  • biting lips
  • fidgeting
  • hunching down in the chair

Disgust (Lie to Me)

Disinterested / Unprepared / Bored

  • rubbing the back of the head or neck
  • slouching back in the seat
  • tapping fingertips in the arm rest
  • jiggling leg up or down
  • resting head on hand

Contempt (Lie to Me)

Trying to escape / to take distance

  • leaning body towards the door
  • staring back blankly
  • holding a briefcase or handbag on the lap
  • sitting on the edge of the chair

Closed off

  • hunching shoulders or tucking chin into the chest
  • looking down

Anger (Lie to Me)


Both sides should avoid:

  • excessive nodding (looking like a bobble head)
  • mismatched expressions (facial expression not matching spoken words)
  • invading the personal space of the interviewer / interviewee


Non-verbal communication is a fascinating subject and each message should and could probably be detailed in a separate article. Trying to keep it simple for now, I would only additionally emphasize the ‘eye contact’ during an interview. The right amount of eye contact brings together confidence, honesty, likability and manners, interest and intent, it leverages trust. Poor eye contact or too much eye contact are equally damaging during an interview. “Hold eye contact one extra eyelash”, advices Cynthia Burnham, charisma coach.


“The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” St. Jerome


About the pictures featuring this article:

All illustrations are belonging to the TV Series “Lie to Me” (2009-2011). Inspired by a real-life behavioral scientist, the drama tells the tale of a deception expert who helps uncover the truth for the FBI, local police, law firms, corporations, and individuals. Dr. Cal Lightman and his team are effectively human polygraph machines, and no truth can be concealed from them. The Lightman Group is headed by Dr. Cal Lightman and his partner Dr. Gillian Foster who is a gifted psychologist. She brings balance to the partnership by thinking about the overall picture while Lightman focuses on the details. Together they make an invincible team with insight into human behavior. TV.com

Lie to Me (TV Series)


Featured cover photographer & copyright: Flavia Dobraca

Posted in Knowledge, Respect, Truth and tagged , , .

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