Greta Andrews-Taylor from The West Australian contacted me last week. She was hunting for tips for her readers on how to prepare for job interviews, such as learning to use special body language and vocal tone to create the impression of confidence.
The answers I gave her were completely different from her questions, because none of these things will help you in a job interview.
Read my summary below of what will actually work to win you that job…
Before the interview
Preparation for an interview has two parts:
- Technical — Make sure you understand the role and have researched the company.
- Conversational — Practice having the kind of conversation you are likely to have in the interview, out loud. This really helps to build confidence, because by the time you get to the interview you will have discussed the topics many times and will feel comfortable with them. While driving is a great time for rehearsing like this, because you are essentially talking to yourself!
The day of the interview
For the actual interview I strongly advise against using what I call stick-on techniques, like consciously adjusting your vocal tone or body language to try to appear confident. This distracts you from the core task, is exhausting, and is unlikely to leave a good impression because it makes you look stilted and actually more nervous.
Instead, use methods that generate genuine confidence, such as power posing and pre-framing. These are incredibly effective because they cause the very best version of yourself to emerge naturally. Psychologists who are familiar with the techniques can teach them to you in under 30 minutes.
The single most useful thing, though, is to remember one simple, critical fact: An interview is mutual.
Interviewees so often position themselves as somehow below their interviewers, as if they are begging for a favour. The reality is that the business has a problem — a gap or a need it’s really hoping you can fulfill.
This means there are only two things for you to focus on during the interview:
- Working out, together, whether you can genuinely fulfill this need for their business (and want to do that). Then if yes…
- Communicating clearly and honestly about the value you can bring, so that your interviewers understand this properly.
This problem-solving focus shows authenticity and maturity. It will win you far more jobs than any special interpersonal techniques ever could.