10 wholistic practices to increase your odds of landing the job

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You have the expertise, job history and experience to qualify for your dream job, but you are still not landing the position.  You have prepared your content to perfection, so what else could it possibly be?

Your body language, presence and the silent conversation your body is having with others in the room might be having a huge effect on your success rate.

Neuroscience research shows that the subconscious rules our behavior 95-99% of the time. Without knowing it, most of us are undermining our interpersonal and professional credibility, simply because we’re not aware of what we’re communicating on a physical, vocal and energetic level.

So you google  “body language interview tips” and you get stock answers that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. In the best case, the stars align and you eek by, just barely. In the worst case, they make you seem less human, too slick, and fake. 

Why body language interview tips DON’T work:

When I first started practicing yoga, I was just following the form— the shape that my instructor’s body was making at the front of the class. I didn’t learn how to embody the asanas until I started to understand what the pose was supposed to accomplish.

Learning the form was good training, but at a certain point, in order to rise to the next level, I needed to understand why. I believe the same to be true for interview preparation and coaching. It’s not enough to learn the forms, you have to learn the why.

For example, standing tall or sitting up straight with good posture can quickly look arrogant or hollow. This exudes in-authenticity if all you’re doing is practicing the form or posturing.

In contrast, if you are able to stand powerfully, knowing that your feet need to be planted squarely beneath your hips and your weight, balanced equally between the balls of your feet and heels, then that gives you a presence of weight, authority and gravitas.

Or, if you allow yourself to sit with a straight spine in your seat, knowing that this is enabling your body to take a deep, diaphragmatic breath,  then you are sending an authentic signal of confidence to your self, your nervous system and your audience.

The crucial tip that WILL make you stand out from the crowd:

Often we over prepare the content for these high-stakes situations but we don’t prepare physically or emotionally. We only take care of one part of ourselves. Any small thing can then knock us off our game and send us into a state of defensiveness and mental muddiness. This is not only communicated to your interviewer but it has a spiral effect on your own nervous system. So, here’s how you prepare efficiently and effectively for the success of your whole being:

Before the interview:

Practice diaphragmatic breathing. 4 counts on the inhale, 4 counts on the exhale. Put a hand on your belly to make sure that you are releasing as low down as possible. You can place a hand on your back to make sure that you are breathing three dimensionally. Try filling up your lungs from the bottom to top, imagining that your lungs are balloons filling with air.

Practice a powerful neutral stance, first while standing, then sitting down. Then, try transitioning from walking in, to sitting down, like you’ll be doing in your interview. At all times, your feet are planted firmly beneath you and are in parallel. Your hips are over your heels, your shoulders are over your hips. You can imagine that your head has a string pulling out the top and your chest is slightly raised. 

Warm up your voice. Find a closed space and practice rumbling as low as you can go. Often we want this deep resonance in our voice. It adds authority and weight to our ideas. It also sends a message to our bodies and our interviewer that we are relaxed. When we’re nervous our voices tend to jump a pitch, often because tension has risen to our throat. The more you can practice a lower pitch, the more you will feel relaxed and send a message of authority.

Move your face and body, tensing and releasing, before you walk into the interview. Often, we’ll prepare by staring at a computer screen or reading or notes over and again with our face down and brow furrowed. Our face will then remain frozen in ways that don’t communicate our excitement or enthusiasm for the position. 

During the interview:

Focus on this the other person. Often we’re so worried about how we’re coming across, we forget that others might be having the exact same experience. Try this, focus on the other person. What can you do to make them feel comfortable? In an awkward pause, be curious about them. Have a list of questions that you know you can pull out if needs be. Ask a question and then focus on listening and really hearing the answer.

Re-set the playing field. How often have you walked into an interview and you’ve been taken off guard? Something they said has thrown you for a loop, or something happened in your personal life, just before you walked through the door, or something in the room has made you uncomfortable. This type of experience can make or break an interview. If you do not take the time to make yourself comfortable, you not only fail to set yourself up for the possibility of success but your looking uncomfortable makes the interviewer feel uncomfortable. This also a great way to reset the playing field so that your interviewer knows that your’e in control.

Find your center and stay there. Often, we’ll lean forward to try to look engaged or lean back to try to look confident. Don’t do either, stay in your center. This is not only sending a signal of strength and ease to your interviewer but it is sending a signal of safety to yourself. When answering a question try to keep your head level, your eyes level and stay in your center. If you start to lean or swerve, notice what made you feel that this was necessary. You’ll probably begin to notice that you’ll only do this if you’re not sure about what you’re saying or in some ways trying to “dodge” a reaction from the other person. Try to ask and answer questions “head on.”

Plant your feet and point your toes where you want to direct your focus. Try noticing which way your toes naturally point. Your feet will naturally fall pointing towards where you instinctively want to go. Often, this is right out the door. Instead, try pointing them towards the interviewer to send the signal that you want to be exactly where you are right now.

Put your hands where people can see them and allow gestures to come into play. We want to see where your hands are. It makes us more comfortable. Maybe so we know you don’t have a hidden agenda. Allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap or on the arms of the chair, but when there’s an opportunity, gesture with an open palm and from the heart. 

Bonus tip for powerful communication:

Breath is connected to thought. So, inhale to find “inspiration” and exhale while giving your answer. Try looking at the interviewer while inhaling to “find” your answer, it will keep your answer connected to the person in front of you, enhancing your relationship and keeping you authentic and honest in your message.

There are many other tools and techniques I could teach you, these are just a few. But you can start to see the difference in technique thats specific to your needs. Imagine the difference between wearing an off the rack, one-size-fits-most, clothing item, and a tailored suit. The quality of interview experience you can have, after working with a coach who tailors to your unique communication style, is well worth the effort and the price.

The importance of an interior life

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It’s like a movie.

This summer I had the opportunity to be with my family on a remote island off of Vancouver island. Quiet, free from technology’s reach, distractions, social obligations and rat-race requirements. I was able to follow the threads of my curiosity and notice, without too much eye-raising or judgment from loved ones, what was “up” for me.  What began to fascinate me was the process of watching my inner life, like a movie.

Our inner life is always “on”, whether we are aware of it or not. We are running stories, memories. All the other parts of ourselves (the inner critic, the fearful child, the rebellious teenager, the dominating bitc–etc…) are reacting and responding to what’s going on outside (see the Pixar movie, Inside Out). It can color, warm or darken, our external experience. It can run wild like a film. One could even imagine our internal life set to a thrilling musical score, mirroring the rise and fall of our curiosity, inspiration, joy and the extremes of vulnerability, loneliness and even rage. All of these colors are present throughout our day  and often we don’t know why. There is an internal experience to everything. What is yours?

Is an interior life a good thing?

I get myself into trouble because I often find my interior experience to be far more exciting than what’s happening in front of me. This poses a problem in social situations. Great big grins to the left and right, silly pranks and antics, conversation for filler and shock value, provocative jokes and tirades against this or that group, extreme familiarity– arms strung between bodies, intertwined and suspended, clutching half-committed, are fun for a while but feel like we all have a great need to perform our internal experience rather than relishing savory moments and simply being with what is happening.  

Drawing yourself inward in the morning, for a moment of meditation, prayer, deep breathing can familiarize you to this place inside of yourself, inside of your experience, and alert you to some very significant signals throughout your day. How do I feel? What’s “up” for me? How do all the different parts of my body feel? What muscles am I needlessly holding?  Is my mind repeating a word, a song, a thought, a memory, over and over that I have tuned out? What is it saying? Where am I now and where do I desire to go? What can I do with all of this new information? This type of check-in can bring surprising clarity and direction.  

What’s the first step in getting to know our inner world?

Try this for a day: total external rebellion. Don’t read the news. Don’t read what other people think about what’s on the news. Don’t take pictures of your experiences. Don’t look at pictures of other people’s experiences, deciding whether you like them or judge them. Instead, appreciate the wealth of your own current existence, be in the soup of your own experience, and let everything else fall away. How fortunate we are to be so complicated! It makes for great entertainment.

The uniqueness of this moment will never come again– these people, this place, this fresh wind, this bite, this thought, this internal age of every cell, this coalescence of the right elements, at the right time, intersecting for a perfectly imperfect you, right, now.

Becoming Present

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Sayulita, Mexico

I am perched on an uncomfortably tall chair. My fanny pack is on my lap, a little too cumbersome for comfort and I ask for my first cerveza of the evening. (Actually my first was beneath a blue awning while waiting for the green and white bus going to Sayulita. I drank and also watched a young mother gather the gaze of her babe in arms, hip hugging jean shorts, while waiting for the bus. )

I stay on that chair while two drunk girls stagger and glare when they hear my insufficient Spanish. The bar is too close for comfort to the musicians and I avoid eye contact as I have never been this alone in a new country. Finally I relinquish to the intelligence of my own body, I find another chair with a bit wider seat, farther away from the crowd and I give all of my nervous, loving energy of the moment to the musicians in front of me. If I can’t be comfortable, then at least I can make them feel adored.

Grounding myself in a new place is a process of becoming present to my sensations. I feel my feet, I feel the hot sand, I smell the smell of waves pulsing towards me. I pull my knees closer towards me and release that spot in my in the low of my back with breath. The sun on my shoulders, a book between my hands, I watch the surf, the strong but soft waves, the beginning surfers, the kids fluidly playing between the waves and the playa.

Back to the woman at the bus stop. Her eyes gaze into her child’s eyes. She is so young, maybe eighteen. But with hair and skin so healthy and fair, maybe she ages slower than we do. Her gaze is pure and without self-judgement. She is not comparing herself to others around her. She has no stroller or diaper bag. She is not living a life she doesn’t have time for. She is not aware of anything besides connection with her baby.

I feel my neck unwind and the image of a snake comes from my dreams last night to my consciousness. “To unwind.” What a perfect metaphor for what literally happens in your body, down to your cells when you come to a place of peace and safety, you unwind. My neck releases in both directions and I think I just grew taller, my eyes brighter, my senses cleaner. I am unwinding. No matter what from or why, but the serpent is uncurling and wants to be long and free. I feel my head and my tail.

The sand is warm, not hot and my face finds comfort underneath a small hat. I acrobat into the water and I wonder why no else seems to like to walk on their hands in the surf. I remember what my yoga teacher this morning said about finding our “feet” wherever the ground may be. And I like thinking of myself as an animal, diving into the water, my feet are now my hands. I feel the water, I free my mind of clutter, I feel the water, the buoyancy of the salt. I look for smiles and smiles from within. I am finding my ground.

I watch a young man moving into the water. He is a fisherman. With playfulness he dances. With keen observation he moves to an inner rhythm in his steps. He finds purpose in goodness and allows joy to bubble up without a lid.