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Reading Body Language in Job Interviews

When interviewing potential employees, tear down their fortress.

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You may occasionally interview a candidate in his office. Perhaps it's an internal candidate, or going to the person's workplace is more convenient. Analyzing a candidate's desk can help you determine his personal style. An insecure person will often sit behind a huge wooden desk that acts as a barricade. Try to tempt the person to move out from behind his fortress to a sofa or chair in an open area.

One way to do this is to ask the candidate to join you for lunch or coffee in the cafeteria. If this doesn't work, put your briefcase on the desk before you start talking. This will infringe on the person's protective space and probably make him nervous. The idea is to disrupt his secure position, which he will maintain as long as he is sitting behind his fortress. A person is more prone to give you guarded answers to your question in this position. It may be appropriate to move on to your next candidate if you can't get the person to move.

Excerpted from Attracting & Rewarding Outstanding Employees