Interviewing During the Economic Downturn - How to Look Confident in a Job Interview

When you feel good about yourself, you radiate confidence. The same is unfortunately true when you're feeling desperate or negative, you then radiate discomfort and nervousness. The latter is not the nonverbal message you want to convey to potential employers today, or ever. Instead, the positive message to send is:

- I'm capable/competent
- I'm organized
- I'm the right person for the job
- I'm powerful

The message you communicate during your interview can be the difference between that great job and unemployment. Because of the current economy creating an excess of skilled job-seekers, your competition is as eager and able as you are. Your image, your non-verbal message, should reinforce your resume and make you stand out in an attractive way to prospective employers.

1. First impressions happen quickly. In only one twelfth of a second, the human brain receives a visual picture. Within three seconds, someone can form an opinion about you based on your appearance; your dress, body language, mannerisms and demeanor. Fifty-five percent of another person's perception of you is based on how you look, so make it count! In those first moments you make a statement that you can spend the rest of your interview building on. Make it work for you! Here are five tips to consider as you venture out to secure the next step in your career:

- Evaluate the work environment. Is it business casual, artsy, conservative? Dress appropriately for the culture, while maintaining professionalism.
- Have your suit dry cleaned if needed. Make sure you look wrinkle free, coordinated and polished.
- Keep your make-up, jewelry and fragrance light so you don't offend the eyes and nose.
- Have your shoes polished and in good condition. (The eyes are the window to the soul, but the shoes are the gauge to the work character.)
- Make sure your hair is neat and appropriate for the atmosphere.

2. Nonverbal cues are as important as your interview clothes. You have this opportunity to project confidence, poise, and competence. So, how do you make this strong, positive statement about yourself?
- Posture speaks volumes. An erect, open posture exudes confidence. Keep your body's center facing your listener, and avoid crossing arms or clasping hands for a "receptive" demeanor.
- Eye contact is important. In American society, 40-60% direct eye contact is considered the appropriate standard. Less may suggest a shifty character; more, and the receiver feels imposed upon. Use yours to send a message of sincere and genuine interest.
- Awareness. Be aware of nervousness, tics and bad habits. Stay in the moment and project what you want your interviewer to see: the best possible you!

3. PMA: A big part of projecting a powerful presence is having a positive mental attitude. Most interviewers are intuitive enough to pick up on your feelings during an interview.. If you are uncomfortable and awkward during the meeting, your interviewer may be as well. (If they are uncomfortable, they're less likely to make a positive decision about you.) If you are in a positive state of mind, confident, strong and calm, your interviewer will pick up on it. Your interview will progress more smoothly, and this will be attributed to you and your abilities, setting you apart from your competition.

Once you make an impression, it's difficult to change it. So it is important to make sure that what you're projecting is the impression you want the interviewer to have of you. That first positive message is the one you will build on all throughout the interview. Make it work for you. Be mindful and in the moment. With proper preparation, you can tell your story - the story of you as a confident, poised professional who should get the job!

Patty Buccellato, AICI, CIP, is president of Refined Images, a company specializing for more than 15 years in image and personal branding. Patty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising from Western Michigan University, and is a Certified Professional Member of the Association of Image Consultants International - a distinction earned by fewer than 100 consultants across the U.S. To learn more, visit

This article was published on 23 Sep 2009 and has been viewed 1657 times
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