A seat at the table
When women and men have equal seating at the table, everybody wins. In order to get to the table, you first have to walk through the door — and that means nailing the interview. We searched high and low for job interview secrets from and for successful women. Read on for expert insight that is guaranteed to set you apart.
Watch your body language
It’s no secret that body language is one of the most meaningful ways we communicate, and this is especially true in a job interview scenario. Avoid gestures that make you appear small, such as a closed chest and hunched shoulders, which can be misconstrued as weakness.
Also pay close attention to nervous habits — those unconscious movements we do to discharge anxious energy in high pressure situations. These might manifest as rapid foot tapping, fidgeting with your wedding ring, wringing your hands under the table or biting the inside of your lip. Tune in to your body the next time you're in an anxiety-inducing situation to learn your default. Once you have that awareness, you'll be better equipped to stop yourself from fidgeting in an interview or professional setting.
Ask for what you really deserve
Come prepared to negotiate! One Harvard Business School study found that male MBAs received higher salaries primarily because they expected higher salaries. Women, on the other hand, had lower salary expectations. Because expectations drive behavior, these systematically lower expectations have a direct impact on wages.
Are your expectations too low? Consider whether you need to set your sights higher to get what you really deserve.
Take a breath
If you find yourself getting lost in your words, come back to your breath. Taking a deep breath can lower your heart rate, increase energy, and help correct posture — all key elements for a successful interview. Plus, the extra moment can give you an opportunity to reorganize your thoughts if you find yourself stumbling through a response.
Learn more about the benefits of intentional breath here.
Play hard to get
Margaret A. Neale, a professor who teaches negotiation at Stanford Business School, says, “The more options you have, the more in demand you are going to be. It’s just like dating: The more competition there is for your attention, the more valuable people think you are.” Having multiple options puts the power in your hands, so the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket may actually help you succeed in a job setting.
Get more tips from Margaret here.
Secrets from successful women
On establishing a meaningful connection:
“Every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire [to be validated]. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’… Understanding that one principle, that everybody wants to be heard, has allowed me to hold the microphone for you all these years.” –Oprah Winfrey
On the pressure to be perfect:
“Being able to admit mistakes reveals a lot about a candidate’s strengths and perseverance, while striving to appear perfect is a serious red flag. Don’t strive to be perfect - growth through failure is a big indicator of grit, an indicator of dedicated, high-performing employees.” –Caroline Adams Miller, executive coach and author of Getting Grit: the Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose.
On feeling underqualified:
“I decided what mattered was skills. I was going to go hire the best and the brightest, and people who were going to bring their passion and dedication and work hard. And actual experience in the field or related fields didn’t matter. That opens up a lot of hiring, because then you can just look for skills.” –Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook
On presenting yourself authentically:
“If you're hiring for integrity, you don't want people to manage up differently than they manage down. And you want people to work just as well with their peers and superiors as they do with their subordinates. This consistency is the key to empowering teams." –Mary Barra, CEO and chairman at General Motors
On asking for what you want:
"Ask and she shall receive! Women often find it hard to ask for things, whether it's a business opportunity or a salary raise. We simply expect others to recognize our value and hard work. Asking for what you want in a gracious, thoughtful way often results in getting what you want, so put your fears aside and ask for what you want. You might just get it!" –Alexandra Lebenthal, President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company
On building confidence from within:
“For many guys, [confidence] is simpler because they’re not as over-invested in the question of ‘Do I belong?’ Everything is not a test. If you’re not viewing interactions as a litmus test for whether you belong, you’re going to act better. On the other hand, if you’re looking all the time for that kind of validation, you’re either going to be self-conscious or insecure, and neither of those is a recipe for success. What you want is the kind of inherent confidence that leads to grace. You want to be around people who are having fun and enjoying what they’re doing.” –Amy Schulman, first female partner at Polaris Partners, former EVP and general counsel at Pfizer
Insights from the Honeylove team
On being honest in the room:
“As an entrepreneur who was a musician for most of my professional life, I've had to choose between sink or swim in a number of situations that were new to me. I was continually faced with challenges that I had never solved (setting up fulfillment for our Kickstarter campaign, getting the product manufactured, etc), and you have to just roll up your sleeves and figure them out. The most effective employees at Honeylove have a willingness to tackle new challenges head on. When you're interviewing, it can be intimidating to apply for senior positions where you'll have responsibility over areas that may be new to you, but if you're willing to try, you can figure out almost anything. I think it's important to believe in your abilities, project confidence and go after what you want.” –Betsie Larkin, Honeylove CEO & Founder
On being honest in the room:
“Letting me know ‘I haven’t used that software before, but I pick things up quickly and will do research on it tonight’ is so much better than overselling yourself and then under-performing. It shows humility, honesty, and a willingness to learn.” –Jhoni-Rae Monteith, Customer Service Associate at Honeylove
On playing up your soft skills:
“From a customer service perspective, we’re always looking for someone who is friendly and patient with customers — someone who can show empathy and understanding.” –Christine De Los Santos, Customer Service Associate at Honeylove
On standing out from the crowd:
“Hiring managers are meeting with potentially hundreds of candidates, so making your conversation memorable can be a challenge. Prior to your interview, ask yourself what the one thing is you want them to remember about you three days from now. Maybe you researched their company and found a need that you can uniquely fill, or if it’s a retail company, perhaps you order their product and give feedback about your consumer experience If you really want the position, the benefit of going the extra mile and demonstrating genuine interest can’t be understated enough!” –Sophie Weiss, Brand Manager at Honeylove