The top 10 things you really should be doing to have the best self-confidence in an interview

I have been told by people time and time again, that the reason they lost the interview was because they didn't project enough self-confidence in an interview and the interviewer lost faith that they could survive in their environment. The industries where people have the greatest self-confidence problems when interviewing are the ones in which they are expected to know very technical and specific information. Engineers are rank with those who have issues with self-confidence and self-esteem, because it is a very dog eat dog environment and they know that competition will weed out the incompetent fast.

Throughout the majority of my professional life, I have seen it first hand, because I have interviewed many who by the very site of them, can be perceived as lacking the necessary self-confidence that one looks for in order to fill a technical position. I have had people literally break down in tears in front of me. A terrible site to see.

Most people have learned to lack confidence in their abilities, be nervous when addressing others, or be anxious when all the attention is on them. They have learned this from their relationships with their parents, their peers or from being let loose in a world where people do not build other people up, they beat them down, in an attempt to gain control. We remember past failures. We second-guess ourselves. And, unfortunately, our learned lack of self-confidence is harmful to us at the most important times in our life, like interviewing for a job you want and need.

To make matters worse, 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. The good news is that self-confidence can be generated and regained. Here’s how:

1) Be Prepared

Being prepared is the number 1 reason why people fail in technical interviews or interviews in general. Self-confidence is generally a reflection of how prepared you feel you are, not just for technical interviews, but for anything in life. Our mind plays tricks on us and unless you are a seasoned bullshit artist, will not allow you to come off as something you are not i.e. confident when you know that you don't know, anything. Being prepared will make or break 99% of your interviews and I urge you to take the time to know the company, know the interviewer and know the materials you are going to be interviewed on ahead of time. Companies have a website, people usually have a profile on linkedin, facebook, twitter or any number of other social media websites. And it should be a no brainer that you need to understand the subject you are being interviewed for ahead of time which is always in the original job description.

2) Power Posing

A great video to watch is Amy Cuddy’s, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are", where she asserts that not only does body language affect how others see you, but how we see ourselves. Her studies show that “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel confident – affects your brain’s testosterone and cortisol levels, and makes you feel more confident. Her research concludes that changing your body positions does influence how others see you and even alters your body chemistry.

Power Posing before an interview – or before any event where you are in need of a confidence boost – will greatly improve how you feel and appear to others.

3) Catch More Flies With Honey - Be Attractive

In a Radford University publication, Behavioral Interviews: "It’s Not What You Know, It’s What You Did", confidence is strongly correlated to attractiveness. Multiple studies also conclude that “attractive” job candidates get more offers and make more money. Making yourself attractive during an interview with a comfortably firm handshake, direct eye contact, good posture, relaxed but passionate communication style, and a genuine smile will give you an edge over other candidates. No matter what you look like, you can do and say things that will make you attractive to others. Be more self-aware of what you're doing in an interview and take notes on what things you do that seem to get a good response from people. This can be done in or outside an interview.

My best tip? Practice mock interviews using your web cam or video recording camera and play back the video so you can see what others see! This is invaluable for me. I look totally different in reality than how I see myself in my own head. I do things that are odd that I was never aware of because I could not see myself. It will all come out on camera.

4) Body Posture

You can naturally adjust your body for confidence by asking, “If I was really interested in what my interviewer was saying, how would I sit?” You will be surprised how often you need to readjust your body and how much more confident you feel afterwards. Current scientific studies show the impact body language had on the hormones within the body. High power poses increased testosterone by 20 percent and decreased cortisol levels by 25 percent. It is amazing how much hormone levels play in how you are perceived as well as how you look, including body posture.

Tip: Do not drink alcohol up to 48 hours before an interview. Stay away from foods and beverages that affect blood sugar levels. Alcohol reduces testosterone levels for up to 24 hours after just 1 drink in men. Foods and beverages that affect your blood sugar will cause fluctuations in your energy levels and sabotage your ability to recall information as well as cause posture issues. Smoking "causes" anxiety, it does not relieve it, and because of this, can affect body posture, cause fidgeting and is truly something no interviewer wants to smell while sitting in a small poorly ventilated room with you.

5) Affective Memory

Affective Memory is a central part of Method Acting process, a system pioneered by the late Russian theatre director and actor, Constantin Stanislavski, which requires actors to call on personal memory details from a similar situation to those of their characters. Used with positive personal experiences, this same technique can be effectively applied to rehearsals for job interviews, especially when rehearsing for the critical first four minutes.

Close your eyes. Recall and experience a time you gave a firm and confident handshake. See the eyes and face of a friendly and kind person you know or interviewed with before. Hear their reassuring words. Feel the energy of a positive and successful interview, meeting, or exchange you had in the past. Pay attention to what your posture, breathing, and heartbeat were like. Rehearse and experience this interview in your head, heart, and hands – live it.

Done completely, this exercise will give you confidence for your upcoming interview by connecting it to positive and successful experiences you have already had in your life. You will no longer be walking into an unknown and perhaps scary circumstance, but one you have successfully already experienced. In fact, if done correctly, your mind will not be able to distinguish the difference between the two.

6) Practice, Practice, Practice

As you grow in your career, knowledge, and expertise and have more successes in life, you will naturally become more confident when interviewing. Experience and confidence usually go hand in hand.

If you are early in your career or short on the experience, knowledge, or successes you need to feel fully confident for the job you are interviewing for, seek assistance from relevant books, the web, training courses, and a mentor. Good resources and a commitment to study will give you all the confidence you need.

7) Dress The Part And For god Sake - Shower

Dressing appropriately for interviews is extremely helpful. When you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you come off as more self-confident. Use perfumes or colognes sparingly. Just because you like it, doesn't mean someone else will. Smell can turn someone off in a heartbeat and you wouldn't want to be denied a job because someone was annoyed by how you smell. It happens! For that matter, be sure you are clean and showered. I have interviewed several people that have come in with greasy hair, disheveled and that smell like they haven't showered in days. If you are a smoker, then this is an even bigger problem for you. Get clean and shower right before you go into an interview.

8) A Positive Focus Is Key

We tend to focus our energies on the negative things that happen to us. Despite buckets full of positive experiences, it only takes one or two nasty comments to knock someone off their horse. In fact, meanness is at the root of all confidence issues. Being laughed at when you make a mistake, being harshly rejected by someone you like, or being taunted on a schoolyard all play a part in a person’s self-confidence. To overcome negative experiences in life, focus on positive ones. Most people can count only a few really bad experiences in life, while positive ones are abundant.

Even better, extend this positivity to others. Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” We have the ability to give the gift of confidence to everyone we meet by being constructive and kind in all our interactions. I encourage you to be a champion of confidence for others. It not only feels good and helps others, but gives you greater confidence as well.

9) Ignore The Critic

You are the biggest critic of  you! You must learn to ignore the critic within. There is an old African proverb, "If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm". On the same subject, there are certain things that will trigger the critic to start knocking your self-confidence down. What are your low confidence triggers when interviewing? (e.g., entering the building, shaking hands with your interviewer, sitting down to start the interview, starting to speak, answering questions) Write them down now. Then write down what you say to yourself when these events occur and how it makes you feel. Cross out any negative “self-talk” and re-write the statements in a positive and assertive manner – a way that makes you feel confident and good about yourself when you read and say them. Turn, “I will never get this job” into “I am the best person for this job. This company needs me.”

By re-writing your self-talk, you will change the way you feel and how you behave. Negative self-talk will generate low self-confidence and self-esteem issues while positive self-talk produces the opposite effect. Practice positive self-talk throughout your life and your confidence levels will soar.

10) Be Aware and Be Present

The key to confidence when interviewing is coming prepared and staying present, connected and fully engaged in the process and what you need to convey about yourself. Connect with your interviewer by providing helpful answers to questions and being actively interested in what they have to say. The more focused you are on what you trying to accomplish; the less room insecurities, nervousness, and self-doubt will have to creep in.

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