How to decipher microexpressions during a job interview

“Microexpressions”, explains Body Language expert, Robert Phipps, “is a subconscious flash of emotion across the face, lasting no longer than a quarter of a second”. It sounds insignificant, but learning to decipher microexpressions can be the ultimate interview ability.

As the Guardian reports, it’s almost impossible to control your own emotional output because of how truly subconscious they are, but learning to identify them can be advantageous in social situations.

“A microexpression is a 100% accurate reflection of what that person is feeling, which will then quickly be adjusted, once the conscious mind kicks in, to what they want you to see”, explains Phipps.

Shock is the most noticeable microexpression partly due to the widening of eyes and illuminating face regardless of whether it’s a pleasing or abhorrent situation. If you show to your interview that you recognise their shock (should it come to that), take the opportunity to explain yourself. They’ll remember your perceptiveness over the original statement.

On the flip side, happiness can be spotted by curling of lip corners and creasing in the upper right of the eyes. Due to the seriousness of interview conditions, expect this microexpression to be amended quickly.

Hopefully you won’t be reading these kind of expressions during the interview but it’s worth noting, contempt is shown via the corner of the lip tightening and raising on one side of the face. Similarly, sadness is identified as a downward pull of the lips and loss of focus in the eyes.

The best way to practice spotting microexpressions is by watching recordings of interviews with the sound off. Keep watching and noting the body language of both the interviewer and interviewee. With enough practice you’ll be able to spot microexpressions without even thinking about it.

But remember, just because you can see what your interviewer is feeling about the interview, doesn’t mean you should give slack to any other part of the preparation process. In the end, you’ll be expected to do a job – something no amount of pokerface reading will help you do. That is unless you’re interviewing to be a professional Texas Hold’Em player.