82. How to show executive presence in a job interview.

How to show executive presence in a job interview.

Executive presence, in a nutshell, is the ability to project confidence and gravitas under pressure. So, how can you show executive presence in a job interview when you are anxious and nervous? That's an excellent question! So, let's unpack executive presence and its dimensions to address each one and control the situation as much as possible.

But first, here is an important issue we need to address: career advancement is not just about your skills and experience and how people measure them. There is also your image and how people perceive you as a fit for the role. And this is why executive presence is so important at every stage of your career: it is a precondition for success regardless of seniority, profession, and the sector that you work in. 

As people say, we know a leader when we see them. There is an ‘It’ factor that needs to be matched by your skills and experience to advance in your career. You might feel that you're ready, that you have accumulated all the necessary experience to move up and advance in your career. But do you have the gravitas? Can you communicate well? And is your appearance also matching what is expected of a person in that position you're applying for or want to be promoted to? 

I may not like how the world goes round and how decisions are made. However, what I really want is for my clients to get the jobs that they want. And having been in their shoes, as well as in the hiring manager's shoes, I know what plays into the minds of people that are selecting candidates. This is why I love to coach professionals in transition.

This content I am sharing with you today is, in fact, part of an additional downloadable resource I prepared for the Job Hunting Made Simple Program. As I plan to update the content for the August intake, I thought it was a great idea to share it publicly on The Job Hunting Podcast and this blog post, so it helps you as well. Hopefully, you will see value in it and decide to sign up for the program's next intake. If you are interested, you can CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

1. Confidence and composure under fire

I worry about saying the word ‘confidence’ because I don't want people to understand confidence as something an extrovert and charismatic professional would portray. That’s not what confidence is. Introverts or type B personalities can also be very confident as they walk into a job interview.

  • Walk into that room with a quiet but positive energy, and it will help you immensely.
  • Remember to smile as you walk in or when you're starting the video call.
  • Shake hands if you're allowed to. After the pandemic, you have to double-check wherever before reaching out for a hand-shake. In a video call, show the palms of your hands, do a wave. It's friendly and shows openess.
  • Make eye contact and have the posture of openness towards the people that are interviewing you.
  • Be aware not to cross your legs or arms. Instead, have a very open, trustworthy posture as you sit down. Even in a video call, there are ways that you can showcase that as well, by making sure that the video shows not only your face and neck but also about half of your upper body. And hopefully, the video also will show a bit of your hands as well. So again, gestures and posture will help you and present yourself with confidence.

It's important to remember that there's no need to be fearful, anxious, or nervous: it's just an interview, and the worst thing that can happen is you don't get a job. Remember: you don't have that job anyway! Believe in yourself so that others can believe in you too. 

2. Decisiveness in how you answer questions

Decisiveness is about having confidence in your answers and your ability to add great value to the organization when they hire you. In your new role, you will need to have the courage to speak up in a way that adds value instead of speaking up to antagonize your colleagues and create doubts, conflict, or confusion. Your recruiter and hiring manager will be evaluating that dimension of your communication style. So, consider how you answer questions and how you relate to others in the workplace, so you can reassure the interviewers you are the right person for the role.

Let's look at that in more detail below...

3. Speak the truth to power

How can we be at ease with office politics? How can we say what we think about that terrible new policy or new company website without burning bridges or committing a career-limiting move?

You really need to have a spine to share your convictions in a way that doesn't upset people and doesn't burn your chances. The key is to find ways to communicate the important message that will benefit the company's future, giving your positive and constructive feedback. The goal is to support the organization to actually change, evolve, and grow.

It's a thin line to navigate when you need to develop the ability to walk into a room with decision-makers and challenge authority! And sometimes, that challenge will happen during your job interview. It's not really about being right or wrong. It's about how you can tell a story that enables positive change.

Speaking truth to power is an important ability and a skill that sometimes you may need coaching to help you learn how to do. And it could be really impacting your upward mobility if you're feeling stuck and not getting the jobs you want. 

4. The tone of voice and inflection

If you naturally have a monotone tone of voice and a cadence that's not very energetic, that sometimes can be exacerbated when you are in a highly stressful situation, such as public speaking or... you guessed it: a job interview.

Therefore, learning how to control your voice and developing a more engaging tone may be really important for your future career. This will help you tell a compelling story that makes people want to hear more and more from you. And this is why the tone of voice and cadence is critical in an interview environment.

You may want to discuss that with a coach to help you. If you are interested in learning more about this, get in touch with me, and I may be able to help you or recommend a voice coach. 


I hope the notes above and The Job Hunting Podcast episode 82 will help you exude confidence and composure under fire and answer your questions with confidence and energy. Not only will you get your next job faster, but you will be great at it!

Next week on The Job Hunting Podcast episode 83, I will continue to address executive presence in job interviews, so make sure you read the next blog and listen to the podcast.


Podcast Episode Timestamps:

  • 09:27 - How do we show executive presence in a job interview?
  • 13:27 - Confidence and composure under fire
  • 20:42 - Decisiveness in how you answer questions
  • 21:40 - Speaking truth to power
  • 24:01 - Tone of voice and inflection

Links mentioned in this episode:

Do you need help with your executive presence? Book a consultation with me:

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Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also a virtual career coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals in the corporate, non-profit, and public sectors the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you ready and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have…

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Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert | Founder, Pantala Academy

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