Confident interviewing: A trick to make you physically braver

In 2012, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy famously gave a TED Talk entitled “Your body language may shape who you are.” Her research was based on the theory that body language can reflect how you feel, but asks whether body language actually has the power to affect how you feel. In other words, is it possible to change how you feel by changing how you hold your body? And can this translate to confident interviewing?

Confident interviewing: the power pose

In her talk, Cuddy discusses the “power pose”, which can be used to physically boost your confidence before a nerve-wracking task like a job interview. According to her research, simply by assuming a stance of confidence, you can trick your mind and your body into being more confident.

A power pose comes in several characters. First, you can do what I call the Captain Morgan: Hands on the hips, chest up, one leg raised. Second, you can try the Superman: Widen your stance, hands at your hips, and look up at a 45-degree angle. And third, there’s the Ferris Bueller: Recline with your feet up on a desk with your hands behind your head. Sure, some of these poses are more practical than others, but the effect is the same. If you spend a few minutes looking confident, you’ll feel the effect to match.

Cuddy’s experiment asked test subjects to spend five minutes in the power pose (probably the Superman) before going into a job interview. She discovered that subjects were able to boost their own feelings of confidence and perform better in job interviews. Later, Cuddy published an academic paper in Psychological Science that says that the power pose has been linked to an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol, which will make you feel more powerful.

Will it work in an interview?

Since Cuddy’s TED Talk gained a bit of traction, experts have tried to debunk her work. But in 2018, Cuddy’s team published a rebuttal to the criticism with even more research, and according to Forbes, the verdict is in: The power pose is back, and it works.

So how can you wield this tool?  It’s simple! First, allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at your interview location. Second, find a private place, like a restroom stall, or maybe even just in your car. Third, put your hands on your hips, puff your chest out and take deep breaths. You can even repeat a mantra, if you’d like. “You’ve got this. You are prepared. You are professional, qualified, and likable.”

Is it cheesy? Sure. Does it work? The science says YES! Give it a try. In the worst case scenario, it’ll give you a good giggle and help you relax.

And if you have the time, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, which is full of helpful, empowering advice.

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