Another hard reality of 2020 is that for a lot of us, it’s returning to a job market and the dreaded job interviews that come with them. Executive and leadership coach Suzanne Masefield, who has worked with Air New Zealand, NZ Rugby and SkyCity, is also an expert on body language. Here she shares her advice on how to look and sound confident (even if you’re not always feeling it!)
We determine whether we like, dislike, trust or mistrust people within the first 10 seconds of meeting them with up to 70% of a job interviewer’s assessment being based consciously and sub-consciously on people’s body language. So being aware of positive body language to utilise to increase your prospects, and negative gestures to avoid sabotaging opportunities, is imperative.
Prior to meetings we often prepare what we’re going to say, notes, or a presentation. But most people rarely take even a few moments to check in with how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, or how they’re positioning their body and the outcomes that can have on their interactions.
As a Body Mind Analyst AIBMA and Executive Coach ICF, clients frequently ask me what’s holding them back, often not realising how they come across to others. They’re unaware they shrink back, look nervous or alternatively come across as pushy, aggressive or negative. Whether you’re being interviewed or interviewing, consciously taking charge of your body language will positively focus your energy to identify others subtle non-verbal cues and increase your success ratio.
Dress to Impress as it increases your confidence and makes you stand out as your personal appearance reflects your level of self-mastery. Your dress code needs to fit the company and position… too casual could make people think you’re casual about your work which includes hair, make-up, accessories and hygiene. The rule of thumb is clean, well-groomed and tidy. This may seem obvious, but in my experience working with many HR and recruitment consultants, candidates often fall short in these areas with tragic consequences.
Re-enforce Your CV with Body Presence: Strengths and attributes in a CV represent you on paper, however, the interviewer wants to see the real you – in the flesh. They want to know if you’ll get on with others, as well as do the job competently. It’s about the way you shake the interviewer’s hand, the eye contact you use, how you sit in the chair, how you use your hands. In essence, it’s about who you show up as, which is reflected in your body language and your sense of presence.
Your body language, your thoughts and your emotions all impact how you position your body, so when discussing body language we cannot do so as if it’s a stand-alone option on its own. As your mind, emotions and physicality all work together. I call this ‘Collaborative Intelligence™’. It’s about understanding how to enable your mind, emotions and your body to work more consciously as a team, instead of as separate entities, which can often be the case when people have little self-awareness.
Press Pause To Prepare: When you make a choice to prepare yourself, prior to an interview or meetings you develop greater self- awareness so you can respond more effectively, rather than reacting to any outside influences or new situations.
Your body presence also affects how you feel chemically. When you position your body in a relaxed upright posture or a power pose for a few minutes using breathing that flows easily, rather than shallow breathing, you feel empowered.
This is due to endorphins and testosterone spreading through your body, increasing your confidence which elevates your poise and self-assurance. Likewise the opposite is true when you close your posture up and shallow breathe, something common when anxious, but be warned this actually increases the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
How to: take a few deep breaths and move your body into an upright open stance to create a greater sense of physical presence so you elevate your mental and emotional state, alongside enhancing your ability to focus by increasing oxygen to the brain. You can do this during the interview too if you catch your attention wandering or get triggered by something someone says or feel stressed.
By taking charge of your breathing and your posture you create a greater sense of self to improve decision making, increase your presence and enhance your ability to communicate with greater awareness so you can engage and interact more easily and effectively. Using ‘Collaborative Intelligence™’ also helps you become more aware of destructive thoughts that may need shifting so you don’t sabotage meetings from the onset eg: ‘What if I don’t get this job, I won’t have any money coming in’, or ‘this guy doesn’t like me I’m wasting my time’ which are all things I’ve heard clients utter.
Pressing Pause to centre yourself prior to and during interviews or meetings creates a stable platform so you can showcase who you are with a calm, confident manner that engenders trust, connection and greater engagement from others.
Communicating powerfully and authentically is pivotal to good relationships and career success!
Get In Touch: A confident, friendly, attentive manner with good inter-personal and body language skills goes a long way to convincing the interviewer you are the right candidate for the position. So start each meeting with gaining a connection with the interviewer by initiated a touch, a handshake, or nowadays even an elbow bump. Due to the situation at present always ask permission from the other person to connect in this way to create safety and develop rapport from the onset.
If your interview is online, which is occurring more and more nowadays, that sensory means of connection or reading others has been removed. So your other senses (visual, auditory, intuition/gut reaction), instinctively amps up to allow you to uncover whether you have a friend or foe on the other end of the camera. So utilising these sensory areas to enhance your online rapport building enables you to gather more information, feel empowered and increase your connection and collaboration with others.
Postive postures and gestures show interest and enthusiasm
· Upright relaxed posture – reflects self confidence
· Eye contact – engagement and interest
· Genuine smile (reaches eyes) – openness and positivity
· Arms open & relaxed – willingness to build relationships
· Open face up palms – open personality with nothing to hide
· Equal handshake – confidence and respect
· Head tilted to the side – interested and listening
· Lean forward slightly – attentive and responsive
· Plant both feet on the floor – stabilises your body to respond more effectively
· Breathe steadily – oxygen to the brain calms nerves and increases clarity
Eight postures to avoid
• Slouching – implies lethargy, disinterest
• Crossing arms – defensiveness, negative attitude
• Hands in pockets – something to hide
• Speaking too fast or interrupting – nervousness, not listening
• Fiddling with hair, cell phone etc – anxiety, distracted
• Stroking neck or arms – need for reassurance
• Fidgeting or foot tapping – impatient, wants to escape
• Wringing hands – anxious (the closer to the face, the more anxiety)
Negative gestures can imply you’re defensive, unsure of what you’re saying or perhaps even lying. So avoid these at all cost otherwise you’ll undo all the positive attributes highlighted in your CV.
Stand with the interviewer at the end, shake hands maintaining good eye contact, thank them for the opportunity and exit with the upright relaxed posture you entered with. Be yourself and be at ease, as it’s a potent and compelling selling point!
Free Pause Relaxation to prepare for your interview at www.presspause.today
Download – Increase Your Attractor Factor at www.thebodylanguagecompany.com
More info on 1:1 Executive Coaching contact Suzanne Masefield