Studies show that only 7% of the impact you make on an interviewer will result from what you actually say. 38% comes from the quality of your grammar, your tone of voice, and overall confidence, and an overwhelming 55% is based on how you dress, act, and walk in the door.
This means that your chances of getting hired will only rise minimally if you have compelling things to say. One lesson that you can take away from this is that you are more likely to get hired because of your delivery, not so much your message.
Of course, it’s still important that what you say hits home. But as you’re preparing before the interview, keep track of what is more likely to determine your future:
- Your tone of voice
- Your energy/enthusiasm level
- Your facial expression
- Your ability to convey your knowledge of the company
- Your level of engagement in the conversation
- Your ability to come across as confident
When I look at this list, I notice that they all have one thing in common: they can be compromised by anxiety. Because when you’re anxious, you’re fidgety, nervous, you might not hear the full question, and your mind could go blank.
Of course, this is the last thing that I want to happen to you when you’re sitting across from the person who could decide whether or not you land your dream job! So, here’s what I tell my clients to do if they’re feeling nervous before their interview:
1. Breathe slowly and deeply
Your breathing pattern is more important than you may give it credit for. Taking deep, full breaths when you’re feeling anxious will relax your body. This is because when you’re stressed, you tend to take shallow, rapid breaths. This is part of your stress response, and it can actually prolong your anxiety. Consider learning some calming breathing exercises to combat this!
2. Be present
One of the most important things you can do to stand out as a candidate is build rapport with your interviewer. But, you can’t do this if you’re busy trying to think through your perfect answer while they’re asking a question. Remember what we went through before, about how your delivery matters more than your message? The best chance you have of nailing the delivery is staying present in the situation and paying attention to cues from your interviewer, as well as opportunities to build rapport.
Many candidates make the mistake of responding immediately after the interviewer finishes asking their question. They don’t take the time to think about their response and structure their answer. It’s okay to pause for a moment! A great way to do this is to say “That’s a great question” before you start giving your answer. It shows that you’re paying attention and gives you an extra second to think through what you’re going to say.
Smiling is a great way to show off your positive energy! Hiring managers will select candidates who they trust and who they feel they could work with. The best way to make sure that they like you is to come across as approachable and genuine. Smile when you walk in to set a great tone for the rest of the interview.
5. Speak with enthusiasm
Nobody will want to work with someone who doesn’t appear interested in the role they’re applying for. Before you discount this tip and say “Of course I’m interested in this role, I’m here, aren’t I?!”, let me stress how important it is. Anxiety can really hurt your energy level and make you come across as more nervous than you are eager. My top tip for overcoming this is to speak from your heart. When you’re doing research and preparation, find something about the role you’re applying for that gets you excited and lights you up! Then, when you talk about it in the interview, your tone will be more enthusiastic and you’ll become a more compelling candidate.
6. Practice the High Power Pose
If you don’t know what I mean by this, check out social psychologist’s Ann Cuddy’s TEDx talk on how to appear – and feel – more confident. Here’s what you need to know: simply by making yourself look more confident, you can trick your brain into thinking that you’re confident. As a result, you’ll appear more enthusiastic, comfortable, engaged, and attractive. In other words: you’re more likely to get hired.
What is the high power pose? It’s when you stand tall, correct your posture, and set your intentions. It can change the way that others think about you, and most importantly, it can change the way you think about yourself. Strike your power pose before going into an interview to make a great first impression!
How do you prepare for an interview? Do you have any tips for overcoming anxiety? Let me know in the comments section!