Even a seasoned professional gets a little nervous (or a lot nervous!) before an interview. It is human nature. Luckily for you, there are lots of things that you can do to prepare to boost your confidence and ready yourself. Now, I am not talking about wearing a great suit, studying your material, practicing your Ten Second Tease elevator speech, or rehearsing your Me at My Best Stories. Yes, those are all important things to do.
However, what I am talking about are some things that you can (and should!) be doing in the 30 minutes prior to your interview to prepare your body, calm your nerves and boost your confidence. And don’t worry – I have made the tips easy to remember with my free Interview Body Prep reminder quicksheet graphic. Heck, you could even make it your wallpaper! Click here to download it!
Tip 1 – Drink Water
We’ve heard over and over again the importance of staying hydrated. Well, drinking water is even more critical when you are speaking because it will ward off dry mouth during the interview. You know, that scratchy feeling where it is hard to swallow.
Dry mouth also can cause that sticky sound when you close your mouth. Without enough moisture, your tongue can form a vacuum of sorts with the roof of your mouth, making an awkward clicking noise when you try to speak.
Start drinking water about 15 minutes prior to your interview. And if the interviewer offers you some water for the interview, TAKE IT! Not only will it help your mouth hydrated, it can serve as a reasonable pause for you to gather your thoughts.
Tip 2 – Warm up
No, I don’t mean go for a jog. Warm up your mouth, throat and jaw. You’ll be using them a bunch during the interview, so have them warmed up and ready to go. By preparing your body for this, it will make the words flow more easily. You will be less likely to stumble over a difficult phrase. Here are a few techniques to help you do that!
Make a Raspberry
You heard me! Sounds crazy right? But it really works. This is a method of warming up your mouth, throat and vocal cords, by releasing tension in the lips and vocal folds. It also connects breathing and speaking. This will be important because you will be doing a lot of talking over the next hour.
Place your lips loosely together and release the air in a steady stream to create a raspberry sound (the sound babies make when trying to figure out how to talk). The ideal tune is for you to mimic a european ambulance. Make the sound alternating between any two notes. If you are doing it right, it will sounds like a siren and will leave your lips and throat feeling like they just had a mini-massage!
Release Your Jaw
It is also important to release and relax your jaw. This will leave your mouth prepared for speaking and your body more relaxed. We often hold tension in our jaws when we are nervous, making it even more challenging to speak clearly and confidently.
To reduce tension and release your jaw, place the heels of each hand directly below the cheek bone. Pushing in and down from the cheeks to the jaw, massage the facial muscles. Allow your jaw to passively open as you move the hands down the face. Repeat several times.
Tip 3 – Strike a Power Pose
Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research has shows us that by adopting a power pose – a body stance associated with dominance – we can reduce our stress and improve our confidence. In fact, striking a power pose for as little as 2 minutes is enough to create a 20 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. So this 2 minute prep will leave you feeling more powerful, confident, and ready to rock your interview!
So what exactly is a power pose? The basic idea is to make your body as big as it can be. Puff up your chest. Spread your legs. Open your arms. Here are a few examples of prominent power poses:
You have just won a race – what do you do? Throw your arms up and celebrate. For this stance, raise your hands in the air as if you were making the “Y”.
Picture Wonder Woman and Superman have just arrived on scene to save the day. They are surveying the area. How are they standing? With there hands on their hips, chest out, and legs slightly apart.
You are in a long meeting. You look over at your boss – she looks relaxed but in charge. How is she sitting? With her hands behind her head, elbows out, and leaning slightly back.
Warning – While it is critical to be confident in your interview, you do NOT want to be cocky. So strike your power pose for 2 minutes before your interview, and carry that confidence with you. If you strike a power pose during the interview you could come across as overbearing or trying too hard!! Keep your confidence throughout the interview by continuing to stand (or sit) tall and keeping your body open. Which brings us to tip 4….
Tip 4 – Keep your Body Open
Confidence and power poses are helpful to keep your nerves in check so that you can get through the interview. However, more importantly than getting through the interview is to make a connection and build trust with the interviewer. And that starts from the very first impression.
What do most candidates do as they are waiting to meet the interviewer? They are likely sitting, head down, reviewing their resume or Me at My Best Stories. Pretty typical, right? Well you don’t want to be typical, you want to stand out – for all the right reasons.
So what should you be doing to keep your body open?
Sit (or stand, if appropriate) up tall, with your chest open. Keep your head and chin up (not tucked down) and your hands free.
Not only will this provide a nice open visual for the interviewer when they first see you, but it will also make the introduction go more smoothly. You will not have to look up and then tuck away your papers or phone to greet the person.
Tip 5 – Smile!
By smiling prior to your interview, you will be less stressed and appear more hire-ready. Smiling reduces the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine. It also increases the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphin, reducing overall blood pressure.
But the benefits of smiling don’t stop at just making you feel better. Smiling might just land you the job. Research shows that when people smile, they are perceived to be not only to be likeable and courteous, but also more competent. And I think we can all agree that the the interviewer is looking for someone with competence!
Plus, employers want to hire people that want to work there. So you should be genuinely happy to be there, to have the interview, and to have the opportunity to explore this new possibility!
But what if all the pre-interview nerves don’t make you want to smile? SMILE ANYWAY.
Studies have shown that, while not as effective as a genuine smile, a forced smile is still better than not smiling. In one such study “Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response,” published in the journal Psychological Science, individuals who were instructed to smile (or whose mouth was held in a smiling position using chopsticks – say what?!?!) recovered from stressful activities with lower heart rates than those who held a neutral expression. Genuine smiles were still the most effective, but even if it is forced, you will still reap some of the stress-reducing benefits!
In addition to making you feel better, smiling is contagious. So if you smile, others will smile back, making everyone you meet feel a little less stress. What a great way to start an interview!!
So smile while you are waiting for your interview. Smile at the security guard who let’s you in. Flash those pearly whites at the future colleague that walks by. Grin at yourself in the mirror while you are power posing! And smile when you greet your host and those conducting the interview.
So to recap, the 5 tips to prepare your body and calm your nerves are:
- Tip 1 – Drink Water
- Tip 2 – Warm up
- Tip 3 – Strike a Power Pose
- Tip 4 – Keep your Body Open
- Tip 5 – Smile!
And think these tips are only helpful for interviews? Think again! Use these tips for any meeting or presentation that you want to make a good impression at (which should be all of them!). The more you practice them, the more habitual and natural they become. And that is how you Engineer with Impact!
To have these tips at your fingertips, download my free Interview Body Prep graphic to use as wallpaper or easy reference!
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