Often success isn’t so much ‘what you say’, but ‘how you say it’. Thinking about how you come across and presenting yourself confidently can be the difference between success and failure.
Nerves and the pressure of an interview situation can make us behave differently. We suddenly act in weird ways and the sound coming out of our mouth doesn’t seem to be our usual one!
To stop nerves getting the better of you, here are some tips and exercises to help you nail a job interview:
- Don’t speak too fast. Nerves tend to make us speed up, so whilst you’re waiting for your interview, breathe in through your nose very slowly for a count of three. Then breathe out through your nose for a count of three. Repeat this three times. That should take you a total of 18 seconds. In that time, you will have significantly lowered your heart rate and when you speak, you’ll find you won’t rush.
- Stop yourself shaking. Simply squeeze your buttocks or your thigh muscles. It’s almost physically impossible to have shaky hands if your buttocks or your thigh muscles are clenched. This technique will help you feel and appear more confident – and most clothes will completely mask your actions!
- Stop your voice shaking. Open your throat by sticking your tongue out as far as it will go and try to say the whole of the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme out loud. This will open the back of the throat and you’ll sound more confident and have more authority. (Of course, you should do this before the interview – not in front of the panel!)
- Stand up whilst waiting. You will often be shown into a boardroom before an interview and offered a seat whilst you wait. Don’t take it. You don’t want their first impression of you to be struggling up out of a chair, so stay standing. You’ll look more confident if you are on their level as you first meet them.
- Best sitting position. Firstly, never trust the back of a chair! You can easily end up leaning too far back which can tighten your throat. I recommend leaning slightly forward on your chair. You’ll look and feel more ‘dynamic’ if you sit in this position.
- Show your hands. It has been proved that we are much more likely to get a job if we have our hands visible on the table in front of us rather than ‘hiding’ our hands under the table. Showing our hands is a sign of honesty.
- Make the other person feel special. Many people try too hard in a job interview and end up merely ‘bigging themselves up’. We have all been ‘bored’ by other people going on about themselves without being the slightest bit interested in us. Remember to ask questions – and be genuinely interested in the reply. Obviously, it’s important to look keen and passionate about the job on offer but try not to simply blow your own trumpet too much.
- When we’re crippled with fear and in full flight or fight mode, we find it hard to listen and often answer the wrong question. So try to slow down your body’s natural responses and listen – it will also help to make the other person feel special and show you value their question.
- Use your own voice. Try to use your ‘own’ voice rather than putting on a formal ‘public speaking’ voice. Often this is as simple as not speaking too loudly. Speak as if you were talking with a group of friends.
- Be yourself. We want to be ourselves when we meet other people because if we are being ourselves, we will come across as relaxed, authentic and confident. Try to use words you usually use so you feel like you’re being yourself.
So, enjoy the interview and be proud of your achievements – you’re already on the short list so they must think pretty highly of you already!
Remember to slow down, listen and be yourself.
If you do that, you’ll come across as relaxed, authentic and confident.
Robin Kermode is author of Speak So Your Audience Will Listen – 7 Steps to Confident and Successful Public Speaking