About a year ago I was watching Harvard Business School Professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about ‘’How Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” and I literally couldn’t get it out of my head.
In her talk, she shares how not only does body language affect how others see, but it also changes how we see ourselves. I think that everyone who is heading into a job interview should watch this TED Talk. (You can see and hear her talk for yourself at this link: https://youtu.be/Ks-_Mh1QhMc.)
Our non-verbal behaviour or body language is a major form of communication. In fact, body language accounts for more than 50% of what people think of you. (It matters even more than what you actually say.) People make sweeping judgements about you based on your body language. According to Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/only-7-seconds-to-make-first-impression-2013-4) you have only seven seconds to make a strong first impression. Those judgements can predict really meaningful life outcomes, like whether you will get the job of your dreams or not.
What is interesting is that your body language also impacts your OWN thoughts and feelings. It’s not just a one-way street!
If you want to have power and confidence in your interview, start by opening up your body language in the reception area. Put away your iPhone. Don’t hunch over. If you can, sneak into a washroom or hallway for a moment of privacy and raise your hands above your head in a “V Pose” or stand in a “Wonder Woman Pose” with your hands on your hips for 2 minutes, or assume one of the high power poses in the picture below. Your body language actually impacts the hormone levels in your body and has an impact on how your brain functions. A 2- minute “power pose” can increase your testosterone levels by 25% (testosterone is one of the power hormones) and decrease the stress-inducing hormone cortisol by 25%. You will walk into your interview feeling more confident and less stressed.
When people feel powerless, they close up their bodies as if they were trying to protect themselves. Most people I see in waiting or reception areas have their arms crossed or are hunched over their phones or a magazine. This starts your interview in a low power position! It will lower your confidence and lower your chances of being your “best self” in your interview, and therefore lower your chances of landing the job.
In contrast, when people feel strong, empowered, and ready for anything, their body language is open, relaxed, and either assertive or calm. They project confidence, strength, and self-assurance. Just as a low power position reduces confidence and drops your chance of success, a high power position has the opposite effect. It makes you feel stronger and more confident, and this is reflected in your behaviour and improves your chance of success.
In her experiments, Cuddy simulated job interviews and had the test subjects stand in low power positions or high power positions for 2 minutes before the simulated interviews. The interviewers had no idea which candidates had assumed which positions beforehand. In the interview, the test subjects were told to just go and be themselves. The people who had assumed the high power positions had consistently stronger performance in their interviews. The high power body language boosted their passion, enthusiasm, presence, confidence, authenticity, comfort level and ability to be captivating.
While most of us know that our minds can changes our bodies, Cuddy’s experiments have shown:
Our bodies change our minds
…and our minds change our behaviour
…and our behaviour changes our outcomes.
This means that how you hold your body can actually change your thoughts, your feelings and your hormones, and that in turn will change the way others perceive you – such as how you come across in an interview.
Amy Cuddy’s advice? Fake it with your body language until you become it. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.
So – before your next job interview, go somewhere private for 2 minutes and assume a power pose. Let this little tweak give you a huge advantage! Here’s to your success!