Practice Confident Body Language Before Your Next Interview

My new friend Philip*, having just earned his graphic arts degree, is frustrated in his job search. He told me that he has an interview tomorrow. He’s pretty sure the organization can’t afford to pay him, but he’s hoping they may have some contacts who need his services. With his shoulders hunched over and eyebrows tilted with worry, Philip acted out his wrap-up approach: “I’m going to hand them my business card and say, ‘Is there anyone you can give my card to?”

“Philip,” I said, “you’re apologizing for yourself by your body language before you’ve even started! If they don’t have an opening for you, stand up tall with your shoulders squared, make great eye contact, shake hands firmly, and say confidently, ‘Here’s my business card. I have a lot to offer, so even though you can’t use my services, maybe you can pass it on to someone who can!'” Then I encouraged him to stand in front of the mirror and practice until he believed what he just said. (Hopefully, he’s there now!)

I know this advice works because I’ve benefited from it myself. A wise counselor once told me, “You’ll get treated the way you expect to get treated. If you act like you’re an inconvenience when you approach someone, they’ll treat you that way. If you approach someone adult to adult and state logically what you need from them, you’re more likely to get what you need.”

According to Louis Efron of Forbes.com, “research shows that, on average, interviewers reach final decisions about applicants in only four minutes after meeting them. In this time there is little more to evaluate than how you look and speak, how you carry yourself, and how you greeted the interviewer, all clear clues of your level of self-confidence. Being confident from the moment you walk through the door will always give you a better chance of landing the job.”

Practicing in front of the mirror is only the first step toward confidence. Once you can look yourself in the eye with a genuine smile, you need to practice with your friends. If they’re up for it, get them to look up some interview questions and grill you, too! The more practice you have at delivering confident answers, the better prepared you’ll be for the real thing.

We can’t control how others respond to us, but we can increase our chances of being treated as valuable contributors if we regard ourselves that way. Remember, your body language can communicate as much as the total sum of every word you speak in an interview. So practice speaking up with confidence, and make your next interview a positive experience!

By Marcianne Kuethen

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