You’ve clearly identified the type of company you’d love to work for, the kinds of projects you’d like to be involved with, and the impact you’d like to make. You’ve tweaked your resume, networked your heart out, and sent your strategically crafted cover letters to the right people.
And now you have the interview!
Gulp. For most people, interviewing is nerve-wracking. We so badly want to say and do the right things to secure the results we want. It’s crucial we appear confident, professional, present, and able to articulate our experiences and visions.
However, becoming consumed by fears of what others may think of us is not helpful or fun. So, during the interview process, whose opinion matters most? Is it your potential boss’s? Your prospective coworkers’? The HR person’s?
The truth is, it’s yours.
Yes, your opinions about yourself, your skills, your problem-solving abilities, your work, and your life experiences are of immense importance. These beliefs impact your presence, body language, and tone. Whether you are simply walking into the lobby or sitting in a conference room chatting about your previous jobs, your physicality and mindset are key to presenting the most dynamic and confident version of yourself.
How do you become your own biggest fan? Here are some strategies for your body, mind, and heart.
Body Language — Go Big!
When something important is at stake, we tend to respond by either expanding or contracting. We can rise to the challenge physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, or we can shrink back in all of those ways.
Let’s play with contracting and expanding physically. Wherever you are right now, make yourself physically smaller. Take up less space. It’s harder to breathe, right? Next, become aware of the thoughts that arise when you make this choice to be small. Does your confidence increase or decrease?
Now, take up more space. Keep your body and arms open. Notice how much easier it is to breathe? Become aware of your thoughts and feelings. I’ll bet you are feeling more positive and confident.
Taking up more space not only builds inner confidence, but it also results in more confident body language. The words you say certainly matter — and please invest time in practicing what you would like to share during the interview — but make no mistake. Your body language also communicates volumes.
Just as you choose an outfit that makes sense for the job you are interviewing for, you must also choose a physicality that serves you. This way, when you share a story about how you solved a marketing dilemma, led a team to victory, or rescued a project from disaster, your physicality will be consistent with your message. Being able to take deeper breaths as a result of your posture will also enable you to calm yourself more easily and better support your vocal quality.
For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
Mindset Affects Body
Let’s shift from physical choices to matters of mindset. Notice how your body reacts as you read the following statements that may reflect your thoughts before an interview:
“What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to? I have to know everything. I have to be perfect. I have to say all of the right things. What do I possibly have to offer? OH NO!”
Was your body leaping for joy in excited anticipation? I doubt it. More likely, you tightened up and got smaller. These types of statements lead to tension and constriction, which make it harder for you to breathe deeply, to be your full size, to be fully seen, to be fully heard, or to be fully present.
Now, let’s try a thought that I love:
“I GOT THIS!”
Think this to yourself or say it out loud. Notice how this makes you feel in your body. How does it make you feel emotionally? How is your breathing? Now, compare this to how you feel when you think or say:
“I’m not ready for this.”
Notice how this makes you feel in your body. How do you feel emotionally? How is your breathing?
No matter which statement you focus on, your resume, skills, and experience won’t change — but your framework and attitude will.
Facing the Unknown
When you interview for a new role in a different work environment or enter a new industry, you come face to face with the unknown. This may not be an appealing idea, but it’s certainly nothing you haven’t encountered before. I promise that if you are reading this article, you have faced the unknown before and found your way through it.
Have you fallen in love and/or gotten married? Broken up or gotten divorced? Moved to a new neighborhood or school? Graduated? Had a child? Faced challenges regarding an aging parent in ill health? Then yes, you have faced and successfully navigated through the unknown. And you are still standing. You figured it out. You Googled. You asked trusted friends, family, and experts for their insights. You thought it through. You tried new things.
To navigate the unknown, you needed to be flexible and adaptable. You needed to prioritize and reprioritize. There’s no reason you can’t bring those same skills to new challenges. So, here’s what you can say to any fearful questions and thoughts fueled by your doubts: “I’ll figure it out. I’ve faced other complex situations, and I can face this one.”
On a related note, if you were on the other side of the interview table, whom would you rather hire: a person who thinks they know everything, or a person who is open, curious, and eager to learn new things?
Be a Go-Giver
Let’s stop to contemplate why you are going to that interview in the first place. Think of all you hope to get out of it: a job, money, benefits, security, experience, knowledge, respect, opportunity, and/or the chance to be part of a team. How does it feel in your body to focus on all you hope to get?
Those are all wonderful things to strive for, but let’s experiment with a subtle shift. Instead of focusing on what you hope to get, try thinking about what you want to share while in the interview: your knowledge, your wisdom, your insights, your skills, your passion, your heart, your enthusiasm, your desire to collaborate and make an impact, etc.
If this change in focus helps you to feel more empowered, more expansive, and like a potential collaborator looking for the right fit, great! Make your own list of what you would like to share and look for ways to weave it into your interview answers and questions.
Here are some other positive thoughts to contemplate. See which ones resonate with you, make your body happy, and increase your confidence:
- I have faced the unknown many times.
- I have had many experiences, and I have a lot to offer.
- I am here to see if this opportunity or this environment is a good fit for me.
- I am here to give and share my skills, passion, and knowledge.
- I am excited to be curious.
- I am excited to be present.
The next time you are preparing for an interview, be your own biggest fan. Choose body language that is open and expansive. Commit to a mindset that brings excitement and curiosity to the interview adventure, rather than fear and dread. While you prepare, focus on what you are able to give to the experience. You got this!
Amanda Hennessey is the founder of Boston Public Speaking, San Diego Public Speaking, and Boston Acting Classes and the author of Your Guide to Public Speaking: Build Your Confidence, Find Your Voice, and Inspire Your Audience.