Build Your Confidence for Job Interviews in Less Than 5 Minutes

WorkCoachCafeIn the past, many of us practiced a theory of confidence-building we called “fake it ’til you make it.”  But, now, research show us the science (yes!) behind fake-it-til-you-make it, and how to build your confidence quickly and easily when you need it!

Two Minutes Is All You Need to Build Your Confidence!

Seriously! Recent scientific research, by Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Dr. Amy J.C. Cuddy and her colleagues, shows how to increase your confidence on demand. Using this method, you act more confident, you look more confident, and you actually feel more confident because you are more confident.

The level of “confidence hormones” in your body can actually increase when you use Dr. Cuddy’s methods of confidence building.  

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 “Power Poses.”

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

This (below) is the “starfish” 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. This is called the “starfish” power pose.

Alternatively,  remember the pose Wonder Woman struck after defeating evil: standing triumphantly with fists on hips, feet apart, chin up. Looking absolutely indomitable!

Or, if you prefer, you can do a power pose sitting in a chair, with your feet propped up on the desk, and hands clasped behind your head. What ever works for you.

Activating Your Power!

So, before your next job interview or networking event, spend 2 minutes at home before you leave or in the bathroom or the garage at the interview  or event (or where ever you can have 2 minutes of 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 actually be more confident! Feel that victory! Enjoy it!

Then, in the job interview or at the networking event, 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.

5 Times to Power Pose

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.

We also down-play our accomplishments, have a weak handshake, and don’t smile or engage in much eye contact in the interview. Which further increases the probability of rejection. Not good!

So, put power poses to use for your job search:

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

Prepare as usual for the interview. Then, spend 2 minutes in your favorite power pose (in a stall in the bathroom, perhaps), and then knock their socks off in that interview.

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

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 networking events.

Feeling confident before a networking event will help you be more successful at the event, even if the event is a simple lunch or cup of coffee with a former boss or colleague. Take the time before the event to do your pose.

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.

Give power poses a try for your job search.

Power poses may sound crazy or kind of corny, and they 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, you don’t get a lot more pragmatic (vs. touchy-feely) than Harvard Business School, where Dr. Cuddy teaches and where power is a very well-known quantity.

Don’t limit yourself to the 5 ideas above! If you think of other situations where power poses can help you, like before you give a speech or at the start of a very stressful day, use them.

For More About Building Confidence for Job Interviews:

Manage Your Nerves for a Successful Job Interview

Very, VERY Nervous About Your Job Interview? How to Overcome Your Nerves 5-minute video by Dr. Amy Cuddy

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


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. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPost.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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