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The Executive Presence State of Mind (EP SOM) for Job Interviews

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

I facilitated a workshop last week at Age & Work in Israel. The concept of Age & Work is to provide an incubator for adults looking for work. The premise being that 1) looking for work is a job 2) having a place/community especially after leaving a job is important 3) There are new skills to be learned when looking for a job at an older age 4) It is possible to find work at an older age 5) Community, Community, Community. For more information locally -

My focus was on Executive Presences and getting into the EP SOM – (Executive Presence State of Mind) for job interviews.

Executive Presence has been a buzz word in the last few years. Everyone is talking about it. Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Inc., The Economic Times, Business Insider, Huffington Post… There are companies that train and measure employees EP. According to Dr Gavin R Dagley research in 2013 in association with the Australian Human Resources Institute AHRI, “A person with executive or leadership presence is someone who, by virtue of the effect he or she has on an audience, exerts influence beyond that conferred by formal authority”

In her book Executive Presence; The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, Sylvia Ann Hewlett talks about three elements of Executive Presence – Gravitas, Communication and Appearance. She talks about the characteristics that constitute Gravitas like confidence and integrity and those that deplete Gravitas like off-color jokes and inflated ego. Communication characteristics include superior speaking skills and body language with high-pitched voice and over reliance on notes reducing one’s Executive Presence. Regarding Appearance, grooming and clothing are obvious with broken nails and hairpieces decreasing Executive Presence.

Why is Executive Presence important in interviews? It’s simple. People with EP command more attention, get more positions and win more contracts.

In all the research I have seen so far, I haven’t seen a specific reference to State of Mind (SOM).

Our SOM effects everything we do – and the way we do everything! Just think of your SOM when you are looking for a job and just received a rejection letter. What happens to your SOM? If you are normal, you will be affected – depending on many factors, it may be very mild, but many people are (to put it mildly) not happy when they receive rejection letters. What happens when you immediately (from that not so positive SOM) sit down to send a cover letter for another position? Most likely, you will not be in the best SOM for sending a new letter, and I assure you – it is reflected in your message.

Still not convinced? You just got an annoying call/message/mail from the bank as you are about to walk into your house – how does it affect your SOM? Are you a super-hero that can absolutely separate and control your SOM?

And what happens in an interview – you started in a great SOM but had little chemistry with the interviewer who is asking very difficult and prying questions. What happens to your SOM?

Don’t be fooled – your SOM is reflected in your body language, your tone of voice and even in the words you choose to use. You may not even be conscious of the change, and the person interviewing you may not be able to verbally express what they saw, but the ‘sense’ that something changed is there and it can affect how you are perceived..

The question remaining is can we control our SOM and is it possible to create an optimal SOM for different situations.

The simple answer is Yes and Yes. Our SOM changes, but with experience we can learn to control and maintain an optimal SOM.

Just by being aware of your SOM, and what SOM you want to have, is often enough to help regain control of a situation. Do you want to be assertive, confident, listening, knowledgeable, flexible, focused, and in control? Planning in advance for scenarios that might make you lose your desired SOM can help you maintain it when things inevitably occur to upset it.

One of the best tools for maintaining SOM is something called an “anchor” — an action or movement that triggers awareness. All your senses are immediately reminded to get into a desired SOM. Using anchors to remind yourself to get into your optimal interview/job hunting SOM is a great tool. A pilot recently told me that even before he starts his checklist, as soon as he walks into the cockpit and notices the anti-bacterial wipes used for cleaning the microphone (a simple addition that helps avoid so many illnesses), he gets into “pilot SOM”. Merely seeing the wipes triggers the action of using them, and using them sets his brain in focus to be in “pilot SOM” and start the checklist. It’s similar to musicians picking up their instruments before going on stage, or a sales person turning the phone to silent before a meeting. The wipes, the musical instruments, the action with the phone are all examples of SOM anchors.

Creating an anchor for the optimal “Job Interview” SOM is simple and yet needs practice:

· Take a few moments and remember a time you were at your best at a job interview. For me, it’s having attributes like being focused, prepared, aware of my objective, aware of the specific value I bring to the potential employer, confident, and feeling ready to deal with everything that comes along. You can choose and define your optimal SOM.

· Once you can imagine that situation, spend a few minutes remembering what it felt like; what you saw, heard and felt, or what you said to yourself at the time.

· When the feeling is strong, “anchor” it by putting your thumb and forefinger together and breathing deeply or taking a step forward, or placing your hands on your stomach, or looking up … whatever feels most natural to you.

Do this a few times to help you get into the optimal SOM. This should be practiced way before the interview or directly after a great interview. Then, every time you are at an interview- repeat your anchor. Being in the optimal SOM is very important, and the anchoring process really works! Try it and send me feedback on how great it works for you!

Some animals don't need to learn Executive Presence...


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