Recently over coffee, I was talking with my friend Jeanette, who is our highly experienced nurse recruiter. I asked her what I should tell my readers is the most important thing for them to know when going into an interview.
Without missing a beat or a sip of her coffee, she said,” Confidence. Managers look for confident candidates.”
Today I’ll share:
- What a confident candidate looks like in an interview
- What your body language is saying about you
- Surprising nonverbal ways to boost your confidence
Did you know that within six seconds of us meeting, I will have decided if you are assertive, competent, attractive, agreeable, open, have a high self-esteem, and if you are emotionally stable.
I won’t have tried to do this. I don’t want to judge you so quickly. But I will. I can’t control how fast my unconscious mind evaluates your nonverbals. It just does.
Nonverbals are our primary form of communication with others, especially when it comes to emotions. Nonverbals govern how we feel about ourselves and others. Changing our nonverbals changes how we feel about ourselves in much the same way that wearing a fabulous outfit with heels and getting a new hairstyle can change how a woman feels about herself.
….or in other words
Yes ! You can fake it till you make it.
Here’s proof that nonverbals change how you feel about yourself.
Assume a body builder pose or victory pose and hold it for two minutes. Now gauge how you feel.
Standing in a posture of power boosts testosterone levels and decreases stress cortisol levels. Some actors routinely perform this exercise before going on stage.
Wonder Woman poses with her hands on her hips for a reason. Across the animal kingdom, thousands of species know exactly when and how to make themselves appear bigger to their advantage. Think puffer fish.
Essentially, when you make yourself bigger and take up more space you telegraph power and confidence. While waiting to be called in for your interview, go into the bathroom and perform this exercise. You will be far more confident than if you spend that same two minutes hunched in a chair with head down, over your phone.
Shirk the Shrinking
An example of shrinking body posture is holding your hands clasped between your legs with shoulders slightly hunched while twining your ankles together. This is the posture someone assumes when they are trying to make themselves smaller.
Recently at a meeting I looked around the conference table and noticed a nurse with this exact posture. I tried repeatedly to make eye contact with her but she avoided my attempts. I evaluated her as afraid, and of feeling non-worthy and defensive. By contrast, I looked over at the oncologist at the table. He appeared relaxed, with hands loosely clasped together and resting on top of the table.
Other avoidance moves to avoid are angling your head down, gazing downwards, and for women, hiding behind their hair. Women, be sure and wear your hair in a face revealing style.
Grooming Behaviors Give You Away
Grooming behaviors indicate discomfort and are tells of tension and anxiety.
Grooming behaviors can include twiddling a piece of hair, or sliding your hands down your thighs. Neck touching in particular is indicative of insecurity and tension. Foot bouncing can be another sign of tension.
A patient was sitting up in a chair waiting for his doctor to come in with his MRI results and kept saying he had no worries, but his foot was tapping incessantly. His body was saying something different.
Your tone of voice, rate of speech and pitch of voice all add (or subtract) from the words you are using. Your tone should be pleasantly low to moderate. Don’t let your voice trail off at the end of a sentence. Speak up with energy and enunciate. Some interviewers I know assess penalty points to Soft Talkers. Just kidding. But maybe not.
Faces and Football
I enjoy watching a good football game, but don’t always understand the nuances of football (meaning understand what just happened). I have taught myself to gauge a play by the coaches. After each play, the camera immediately zooms to the coaches. Their body language and facial expressions convey whether what just happened was good or bad. Face down, shoulders caved in, hand to face- bad. Expansive body stance, eyebrow lift, arms up-good.
I interviewed a young new grad with a flat, guarded facial affect, along with a cluster of other similar behaviors. Watching her, I judged her to be unsure of herself and then shortly my mind spun off wondering what her upbringing was like to make her feel unworthy, imagining her as a young girl, and indignantly asking how dare her parents treat her however they had treated her, and…
… in the end I wanted to hug her. But not hire her.
Cultivate an openly expressive face, and smile! Smiling makes you look younger, successful, attractive, and confident.
Listening is an important skill because it conveys respect. Lean in and forward toward the speaker. Slowly nodding and tilting your head shows agreement. People respond very well to others who listen to them, and once someone responds well towards you, they begin to pull for you in the interview.
Hands and Handshakes
The handshake is the one and only physical contact you have during your interview. Make it count.
Handshakes are NOT neutral. They are either positive or negative.
I have a visceral reaction to limp, impotent handshakes. I want to end the contact immediately. What am I supposed to do with this lifeless appendage in my hand?
It’s especially disconcerting when (usually a woman) who I have otherwise judged to be assertive incongruently offers me her flaccid hand. Now I have to spend the next few minutes puzzling about it. Who on this planet is teaching young people to do this? Can we find them and demand they stop?
Your handshake should be firm with full palm hand contact. Make eye contact and greet the interviewer while shaking hands.
During the interview, keeping your hands visible (and not under the table) messages credibility. Using expressive hand gestures is engaging and effective when not overdone.
Properly held shoulders communicate vitality and self esteem. Slumped, weighty shoulders convey helplessness and discouragement. Shoulders will inch up slowly when we are uncertain or insecure.
Your mother was right. Stand up straight and keep your shoulders down and back. Align your shoulders with the person you are talking to as much as possible. Try to sit without your back touching the back of your chair. Proper posture does not go unnoticed and sets you apart.
Successfully managing your nonverbals can make the difference between getting the job you deserve or being passed over. I would be so happy to know this helped a new grad feel confident and get started. Good luck!
Until next time friend,