Because getting a second interview is harder than the first one.

second interview cartoonThis is a guest post by Stephan Wiedner. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

How you feel, and how others perceive how you’re feeling, has more of an impact on whether or not you get that second interview than you might think.

Research published in the psychology and behavioural science journal “Motivation and Emotion” found that those who demonstrated higher levels of Positive Affect (PA) were more likely to get a second interview.

Maybe, then, it’s time to rethink your interview strategy.

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But first, what is PA?

PA is a scientific term that describes a basic concept. Simply put, it’s a description of how we experience positive emotions and how we interact with others and with our environment. Do we frame experience through a positive or negative lens? How do we then express these perceptions?

Those with high PA are typically enthusiastic, energetic, confident, active, alert and all the other beneficial states we associate with being happy. Those with low positive affectivity tend to experience emotions from the opposite end of the emotional spectrum: lethargy, sadness, etc…

It’s no wonder, then, that when measured and studied, those with higher levels of PA were called back for second interviews more often than those with lower levels.

Interview prep: what you are overlooking

Do you know what it takes to ace the first interview and get a second one? The available information mostly revolves around a central thesis that posits that the interviewee must be strategic. For example, the interviewee needs to know how to answer common interview questions, how to properly research the company they are interviewing with, and figure out what questions they should ask during the interview.

This approach focuses attention almost exclusively on what you should do and say. What it overlooks is how you do and say what you do. It overlooks the importance of your emotional state and how that affects the interviewer. And therein lies its flaw.

So now that we know that PA is a strong determining factor on whether or not you get that second interview, the focus shifts to what you can do to increase it in yourself.

How to boost PA?

Research published in the “Journal of Positive Psychology” tested the implications of two strategies to improve PA. Those strategies were: expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. Over the course of four weeks, participants were asked to complete exercises in gratitude and visualizing their best possible self.

Increases in well-being are highest when the activity fits the person’s interests and values and when it is performed with effort and habitual commitment, according to the research.

This is perhaps why it was found that those asked to visualize their best possible self-reported higher levels of PA overall.

The research ultimately tells us that happiness seekers should carefully consider their choices among possible happiness-increasing strategies, as those that fit best with their personal values with yield better returns.

The Best Possible Self (BPS) exercise is suitable for most and resulted in the highest levels of increased PA in the study’s participants. This gives it credence as an excellent way to immediately boost PA.

What does the exercise entail? The researchers framed it like so:

‘‘Think about your best possible self’’ means that you imagine yourself in the future, after everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of your life dreams, and of your own best potentials. In all of these cases you are identifying the best possible way that things might turn out in your life, in order to help guide your decisions now. You may not have thought about yourself in this way before, but research suggests that doing so can have a strong positive effect on your mood and life satisfaction.”

Another study showed that people who were subjected to a heavy movie about war were able to improve their PA by drawing a random happy picture instead of expressing their obviously negative impressions of the movie in a picture. This partially dispels the myth that it’s beneficial to vent your suffering.

So instead of venting about how stressed you are of an upcoming interview, consider life’s blessings. Draw them. Journal about them. Discuss them with a friend.

To increase your PA before your interview, why not try the Super Power Pose? Amy Cuddy, social scientist and expert on the effects of body posture on behaviour, found that the posture of your body has the power to alter your state of mind.

In what she terms ‘Power Posing,” Cuddy gives us an insight into how adopting physical postures of power over powerless poses can make us feel more confident. Consider the victory pose, she says, which is an overhead, arms-stretched-wide-in-a -V pose, usually with the victor’s chin pointing upwards. It is a dominant pose, characterized by its openness and expansiveness – the core ingredients of a power pose. Its opposite, a powerless pose, is identifiable by its closed-off appearance, such as when we fold our arms, cross our ankles or otherwise wrap ourselves up.

Our non-verbals govern how other people think and feel about us. We know this. But by deliberately changing powerless postures to powerful ones, even when we don’t feel genuinely powerful, we can alter the perceptions of others, as well as our own about ourselves. “Fake it till you make it,” would be the adage that best sums up the practice.

So why not take a private moment in a bathroom cubicle and assume the pose alone for a few minutes just before your interview?

If none of the above appeal, why not watch a happy movie (click, or see below) just before the interview to put yourself in a positive emotional state?

Try these approaches before your next interview and see if they make a difference to how you feel and how you come across to your interviewer. Science tells us we’d be well advised to put in the effort to boost PA if we want that second interview and, ultimately, the job.

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About the Author

stephan wiedner portraitStephan Wiedner is the co-founder of, the largest network of independent life and business coaches, and the editor of the Un-Self-Help Blog, a popular resource for science-based personal development that works. Follow Stephan on Google+ or Twitter @swiedner.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Kate B

    I am going to an important networking party later this afternoon. I am going to do everything I can to raise my PA before I leave.

  2. Stephan

    Hi Jacob,

    Thanks for letting me know. That’s pretty exciting.


  3. Kate

    I was hired for a half-time teaching job using this advice during my first interview.

  4. Kate

    Half my class was in tears after they watched the video at the end.

  5. Stephan Wiedner

    Hi Kate,

    Yes, the movie is a good one. And congratulations on getting the job!

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Josh

    Great advice and of course, not just for an interview, but for other interpersonal ‘confrontations’ as well.

  7. Pingback: How to Get a Second Interview: Not What You Thi...

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