How to Project Confidence in an Interview

October 7, 2014


As a job seeker, there are many things that go wrong throughout the process.  From improper formatting in your resume or cover letter to sounding apprehensive in your phone interview, one small move could cost you your next career step.  But, for all intents and purposes, you did all of this right (due in part to our tips), and you landed the final interview.

So now, you followed our advice on preparing yourself for the interview, and you are sitting in the lobby (10 minutes early (no more or less), of course) at your dream job’s headquarters. What now?

You have 10 minutes to review your backstory and examples of your successes, and to prepare your mind for the interview.

How should you do this?

Body Language: The Secret to Interview Success

Have you ever read a sales book?  Many of them reference body language in closing, and coming in for an interview is no different.  Your goal is to close the hiring manager on your product—you.

Now that you’re almost ready to make the pitch, it’s time to project confidence.  Immediately before the and during the interview are two key times you need to demonstrate your ability to perform or lead a team.

Before the Interview

When you show up, at least ten minutes early, request from the secretary the opportunity to use the restroom.  Now that you are in the restroom (preferably a stall), use this simple three-minute confidence booster:

Choosing to smile will not only help you to feel happier, but will improve your confidence and tone of voice within the interview.  If you can’t smile, force it.  Further, striking a power pose will help you to feel more confident and less stressed by raising testosterone levels and reducing cortisol levels.

During the Interview

So you got yourself ready and you are feeling pretty excited.  Don’t let that train derail be showing any form of weakness within the interview.  This weakness we speak of has nothing to do with your skills or experience, but with your subconscious gestures that demonstrate submissiveness.  So what can you do to—for lack of a better term—assert dominance over the hiring manager?

  • Hand Steeple: One of the most powerful moves you can make while talking is to steeple your hands.  This goes just as well for listening—just flip your hands to an open listening steeple.
  • Controlled Gestures: Have you ever seen a nervous speaker; flailing his or her hands with little control?  If you aren’t paying attention, you may be doing this as well.  Keep your hand gestures controlled and on point.
  • Feet Pointed Toward Interviewer: When meeting someone, have you ever had both feet facing the person? Probably not, and this is completely natural. Normally, people will stand with one foot facing the new person and one faced away, a subconscious preparation for flight.  Keeping both feet directly facing the interviewer will project openness and confidence.
  • Sit Up Straight: Pretty obvious, but there is science behind it.  People who sit in dominant positions are more likely to take risks, demonstrating confidence.
  • Lean in: If you are listening, lean into the speaker to convey engagement with the interviewer.

We did skip a few standard interview practices such as making proper eye contact and using a firm handshake, but those are conscious efforts you need to make in general conversation.

Subconscious Gestures to Avoid

Maybe you don’t pay attention to the nervous gestures of others, but recruiters do.  Some of the most common displays of nervousness are as follows, and you should avoid them at all costs.

  • Touching of the Face or Neck: A trait acquired as a toddler, an adult will assume slightly smaller pacifying behaviors such as touching of his or her face or neck. Generally, men touch their faces, women touch necks, clothing, or hair.
  • Rubbing Your Legs: A two-for-one gesture that displays submissiveness.  This will give off cues that your palms are sweating, and also accomplishes the same purpose for some as the face touching.
  • Crossing Your Ankles: Known as the ankle lock, is shows uncertainty or fear.  It is the subconscious behavior or biting your lip.
  • Pressing Your Lips Together: Another subconscious behavior, pressing lips together is a sign of the body that you are nervous and don’t want to let anything into the body.

For more information on how the legs demonstrate subconscious feelings, Westside Toastmasters  offered a chapter from the book of body language.  Please disregard the design.

Interview Confidently

If you are looking to make a good first impression, this advice is paramount to achieving this goal.  There are many other subconscious tells that can give off confidence (or submissiveness), and we welcome you to check them out.

Also, we welcome you to check out other job seeker and interview tips from The Overture Group.

Ready to make the career move of a lifetime? Contact The Overture Group.

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