How to Pass a Job Interview: Harvard’s Psychologist Advice

Have you failed in a job interview? What do you think the reason why companies did not hire you?

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says (after years of studying how to succeed during a stressful situation) that people will automatically judge using two criteria: trustworthiness and competence.

These judgment patterns are always evident in almost all social situations but probably most dominant in a business setting.

When an interviewer asks you questions, he/she is not only focusing on your responses but also on your body postures.

This is because according to Cuddy, body language is an indicator of our emotions. For example, when we feel threatened or insecure, we tend to cross our arms.

Therefore your body postures reveal whether or not you are trustworthy or competent.

Trustworthiness and competence are the two most important qualities of job applicants that all companies are looking for.

Failure in a job interview may mean two things: either you don’t look like a person who can be trusted, or you don’t look competent enough.

So if you want to succeed in your job application, you need to have both qualities. You’ve got to make yourself trustworthy and competent in the eyes of other people.

But how can you achieve both qualities during a job interview?

Here are some useful pieces of advice you can have.

Trustworthiness during a job interview

Most interviewers would ask you questions that are seemingly not related to the position you are applying for.

In fact, some questions are personal such as Tell me about yourself etc.

Most of the job applicants are tempted to boast their performance at their previous jobs, their exceptional abilities, and their achievements.

But the truth is, being boastful during a job interview will not work.

Too much self-promotion will demean your true identity.

Here’s how to properly show trustworthiness:

Show Loyalty

In some situations, the interviewer may ask you about your previous job and why you leave it (if you were formerly employed).

This question may be so simple and objective, but if you don’t answer it properly it can cause you serious damage to your job application.

Most people would say that you should not talk about negativities about your previous job (about your boss, about your co-workers, about the company).

Because if you do, it means that you don’t have gratitude.

Instead of bad-mouthing, why not focus on presenting yourself as an excited person for new challenges?

Tell your interviewer that the only reason why you leave your previous job is that it does not offer you an opportunity for self-development.

Make your interviewer feel how eager you are to explore, meet new challenges and take new responsibilities.

Make it clear that you are not only interested in the job but also for self-growth.

Show Interest

One of the things that your interviewer wants to see from you is the interest in the job you’re applying.

One way of showing it is through polite questions.

Yes, you can ask occasional questions to your interviewer. The best way to show him/her your interest is to ask a question like; How long you’ve been working hard to become (current position the company)?

This question does not only show interest but can also help to create a positive environment for you and your interviewer.

Ask for Advice

Aside from showing interest, you can also ask for affirmation.

Ask him/her question like; What would be your advice for someone who

Don’t pretend that you know everything.

Instead, show that imperfection in you.

Asking advice is one way of showing that you treat your interviewer as someone who is more knowledgeable than you are.

Studies show that asking questions can actually make you seem warmth to others.

These simple tips can help you seem trustworthy to others.

The next challenge is to look like a competent one in an interview process.

Like in creating a trustworthy image, there are some practices that you may consider to become a seemingly competent applicant (even if you doubt yourself).

To show competence in a job interview, you should:

Have relaxed facial expressions

Your facial expressions are perfect reflections of your inner state.

As a result, you can easily know whether a person is sad, happy, curious, irritated by looking at one’s face.

Your face is, therefore, the window of your inner feelings or emotions.

As I mentioned above, during a job interview, an interviewer does not only listen to your language but also observes your facial expressions.

Looking at one’s face is one way of assessing truthfulness, sincerity, and loyalty.

People are more interested in people who are seemingly having these qualities.

Relaxed body language

Like facial expressions, body language is also important during the job interview.

During this whole time, avoid unnecessary movement of any parts of your body such as constant shaking of legs, touching nose while speaking, or trembling while answering questions.

These body movements are annoying for many people so you should avoid them.

Sit straight to have enough oxygen flowing into your brain.

This can help you relax and more focused on the conversation.

Engage in eye contact

It is important that you focus on eye contact during an interview process.

Eye contact shows sincerity and confidence.

Look at your interviewer’s eyes.

If you feel insecure and could not stand the eye to eye contact, don’t worry there’s another way of doing it.

If you can’t look straight at the interviewer’s eyes, then don’t.

Instead, focus your eyes on interviewer’s forehead.

The best part to focus is that spot between two eyebrows.

It’s a safe zone. You will not feel intimidated.

Keep it that way until the interview process is over.

Be aware of the tone of your voice

Like other physical cues, your voice is probably the most important of all.

Any changes you make in the tone of your voice can mean different message.

You can automatically know people’s emotions by listening to their voices.

Your interviewer will also be considering the tone of your voice.

He/she will know if you’re sincere, confident, and competent by listening to you speak.

So be careful. Convey your responses with proper tone.

Okay, I guess I’ve said a lot.

But I’m not done yet.

Although I mentioned helpful tips here, the question remains; how will you achieve all of these?

In her book, Presence Amy Cuddy a Harvard psychologist posits that body language influences self-confidence.

Cuddy emphasized the importance of expanding our body. Doing so can make us powerful.

Self-confidence starts with right body posture.

Good posture leads to positive feelings.

Little behavioral changes can have a great positive impact on your performance.

Bottom line, the image you are molding and showing to the world starts in your own body posture.