Build Your Confidence for Job Interviews in Less Than 5 Minutes

WorkCoachCafeMany job seekers dread interviews and networking events, parties, and family gatherings, particularly those with people they haven’t seen for a while.  If you are unemployed, answering the questions can make interviews and other events very uncomfortable.

In the past, many of us practiced a theory of confidence-building we called “fake it till you make it.”  But, now, research show us that there’s a much easier way and more effective way to build your confidence!

New science replaces fake-it-til-you-make-it!

Perhaps not surprisingly, recent scientific research, by Harvard Business School professor social psychologist Amy J.C. Cuddy and her colleagues, shows that when you act more confident, you not only look more confident, you actually feel more confident because you are more confident. The level of “confidence hormones” in your body can actually increase when you pretend, at least initially, to be confident.  

Since the research also showed that people respond more positively to confident people, feeling confident is exactly what job seekers need to survive all those holiday parties, plus job interviews, following up on job interviews, and the countless other job-search-related human interactions.

Prepare and practice your “power poses.”

Dr. Cuddy’s research shows the existence of “power poses” that actually help you feel more powerful and confident.  

This (below) is a “power pose”!

As they cross the finish line, most of the time, the winners of a race throw their arms up into the air, smiling a big smile, and lifting their chins up toward the sky in triumph. Even little kids do this without prompting when they win a race.  It’s apparently an instinct.

Alternatively,  remember the Wonder Woman pose: standing triumphantly at the end of a battle she just won with hands on hips, feet apart, chin up. Looking indomitable.

Even sitting in a desk chair, with feet propped up on the desk, and hand clasped behind your head can be a power pose.  What ever works for you.

Activating your Power!  

So, before the party, spend 2 minutes (at home before the party or in the bathroom or the garage at the party or interview – where ever you can have some privacy), in your I-just-won-a-race power pose.  Hold that pose for 2 minutes.  Your confidence hormones will respond to the pose, and you will be more confident! Feel that victory!  Enjoy it! 

Then, at the party or in a job interview, remember your power pose – stand up tall (or sit up straight if seated).  Don’t be afraid to make big gestures and take up space – reach out confidently for that handshake.  Smile.  Speak clearly and with sufficient volume to be heard.  Be happy and confident.   

When will this help?

Here are 6 tips on when and how to leverage your favorite power pose. 

1.  Before parties and family get-togethers.

When you are unemployed, attending holiday parties and family get-togethers can be a mixed blessing, to put it mildly.  Many people are sympathetic.  Some are not, and some are too sympathetic.  Unless other attendees have recently been through the process, they might not understand how challenging job search is today with the new technology and the competition.  So, you may hear a lot of well-meaning but out-of-date advice.  

Don’t let all that advice and sympathy get to you.  Smile and nod, and enjoy the event.

2.  Before you call that recruiter or write that cover letter or email.

When we’re not feeling confident, we can use language that almost invites a negative response – “If it’s not too much trouble…”  ”If it looks OK to you…”  ”If you don’t mind…”  That kind of language may increases the probability of rejection.

I bet that being confident is communicated not only in our conversations, but also in our writing. Try it, and see how it works for you.  Don’t be over-confident (“You’d be lucky if I accepted your job offer, toad!”) but avoid inviting rejection.

 3.  Before telephone interviews.

When you are getting ready for the infamous “phone screen” interview, prepare for the interview as usual, and also spend 2 minutes in your power pose.  Stand up during the interview, and if possible, stand near a mirror – and smile whenever you look in the mirror.  You will both sound – and be – more confident, and your smiles will be “heard” on the other end of the line, too.

4.  Before the face-to-face job interview.

Again, prepare as usual for the interview.  Then, spend 2 minutes in your favorite power pose, and knock their socks off in that interview.

5.  Before you get that headshot photo taken for your LinkedIn Profile.

If you don’t have a nice headshot photo on your LinkedIn Profile (big mistake!), when you are getting ready to have that photo taken, practice your favorite power pose.  Then, when the photo is taken you’ll radiate confidence and look your best.

6.  At the start of a long stressful day.

Facing a tough day?  Spend 2 minutes in your favorite power pose in the shower or beside the bed – whatever works for you.  

So, Fake It Until You BECOME It!

And, don’t limit yourself to the 6 ideas above!  If you think of other situations where power poses can help you, use them.  And share your ideas in the comments below.

Give power poses a try for your job search.

It may sound crazy or kind of corny, and it may not work for you.  But a variation has worked for centuries for probably millions of people (the fake-it-til-you-make-it believers).  And, I’ve been trying it out, just on general principle, and I feel a lot more optimistic and confident myself.  So, what do you have to lose?

For More Information on Power Poses: 5-minute video by Dr. Amy Cuddy

 Dr. Amy Cuddy’s 20-minute TED talk (great job interview tips!)

For More Information on Awkward Holiday Party Questions:

Answering Those Awkward Holiday Questions: So, STILL Unemployed?


© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

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