Job Interview: Building Confidence in 3 Steps

Going on a job interview can be confusing and demoralizing, but reducing the task to three steps can boost the job applicant’s confidence.

Succeeding in a job interview isn’t a mystical experience requiring the alignment of the planets, but it may seem that way to someone looking for a job. To demystify the objective, consider job interviews as a three-part process: preparation, the first impression formed in 10 seconds, and the actual interview. Reducing the process to these three distinct steps can boost the confidence of a job seeker.

Job Interview Preparation is Vital

Imagine a ball player or musician performing without adequate practice and preparation. A disaster, right? Even the most talented individual will not perform well under those circumstances. And neither will you shine in your job interview without proper preparation.

So research and network to find out as much as you can about the company or business where you want to work. Assess your skills in light of posted job requirements. Then modify your resume or CV to highlight those skills. If you’re relatively new to the job market or have experienced a period of unemployment, you may be able to highlight some of the skills acquired or used in volunteer work to strengthen your resume.

Another important prep task is to plan your job interview wardrobe. The basic rule is: dress for the part. For example, if you’re seeking a job in the business sector, a man should wear a suit and tie, and a woman should wear a dress, suit or pants suit. Always err on the side of conservative dress. You don’t have to max out your credit cards to dress appropriately, but know that the job interviewer is going to form a positive or negative impression of you in less than 10 seconds.

Thus, body art and piercings should only be displayed in interviews for jobs in certain creative or fashion-forward fields.

While you’re preparing for the interview, pay attention to your self-talk. Stop any negative self-talk like “I’ll never find a job” or “Job interviews make me nervous.” Negative affirmations can sabotage the most talented job seeker, athlete or musician. Research confirms that people often live up to their expectations. Replacing statements with short, positive ones such as, “I like myself,” “I’m going to do well in the job interview” or “I have gifts and abilities” will go far in bolstering confidence. Job interviews aren’t for the fainthearted, so build up yourself.

The Critical First 10 Seconds of the Job Interview

After all the preparation, it’s show time. You’re rested and dressed for success. You arrive in plenty of time for the job interview and turn off your cell phone, knowing that once your name is called, you’ll have less than 10 seconds in which to make a positive impression on the job interviewer.

In these crucial seconds, follow public speaking best practices as explained in “A Speaker’s Guidebook”:

  • Stand tall to convey confidence
  • Smile at the job interviewer to establish rapport
  • Make good eye contact
  • Say your name clearly
  • Repeat the job interviewer’s name to help you remember it

Regardless of gender, a job seeker should shake the interviewer’s hand. A good business handshake strikes the perfect balance between the limp, dead fish approach (in which fingers don’t clasp) and the bone-crusher shake.

If you’re worried that nerves might register in your voice, try breathing from your diaphragm rather than your lungs. As any trained singer knows, getting breath support from your diaphragm, the big muscle in your abdomen, will make the voice deeper and more resonant . Obviously, you don’t want to make your voice sound artificial.

Be sure you learn the correct pronunciation of the job interviewer’s name. Calling someone by name during a conversation is a type of compliment.

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