You’ve spent considerable time researching the company you’re about to have a job interview with.
You’re prepared to answer the tough questions and to ask the right questions of your own.
But you may not know about another piece of the interview preparation puzzle.
Power Pose to Ace the Job Interview
About 10 years ago social psychologist Amy Cuddy described a simple, 2-minute preparatory ritual in a TED talk to boost confidence before going into a stressful situation, such as an in-person interview — power posing.
The ritual involved adopting stances associated with confidence, power and achievement — chest lifted, head held high, arms either up or propped on the hips.
You see the stance all the time, when winners of a race victoriously throw their arms into the air, smiling broadly, chin uplifted. Without thinking, little kids adopt the stance, too, when they win a race or achieve something they feel is really big.
In an experiment, Cuddy and her collaborator Dana Carney, directed people to either high-power or low-power pose for 2 minutes.
The results proved that people indeed have more confidence and feel more powerful when they briefly power pose before facing stressful situations.
“Our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our bodies change our minds.”
Does power posing really work?
Unfortunately, for several years Cuddy’s research was questioned and attacked by fellow social psychologists. Her work was labeled pseudoscience. Her peers said power posing didn’t work. And she faced years of ridicule and nastiness on social media.
But more recently she was vindicated.
As noted by Kim Elsesser, an expert on women’s issues as work:
“Now, Cuddy can legitimately claim that power posing is science. Cuddy’s new academic paper published in March  in Psychological Science, offers ample evidence that adopting an expansive posture makes people feel more powerful.
Cuddy now refers to the effect as postural feedback rather power posing (perhaps to appease those who claimed her research was more pop than science). Cuddy’s analysis examined over 55 studies and clearly demonstrates a link between expansive postures and feelings of power.”
Power posing in action
According to the TED article above, here’s how power posing worked for a woman in finance in the United States:
“I power posed before my third interview for a job the other day! Moving onto fourth and final interview on Tuesday!!! I was seriously nervous and power posing calmed me down … Okay, there was a fifth interview today. I was freaking out, so while waiting I walked outside and power posed on the street. I can’t believe how much better I felt. And I did really well on the interview.”
Here’s my advice.
Determine what kind of pose works best to rev you up.
Then, just before the interview, take 2 minutes in private (find an empty room or even a bathroom) to do your power pose, and get your confidence hormones to kick in.
Sound silly? Maybe. But it might work. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying.
The Science Behind Body Language
An article on BioSpace, a digital hub for news and careers in the Life Sciences, describes kinesics, the science of body language:
“Kinesics includes the use of posture, facial expression, movement and gestures to communicate nonverbally.”
The article offers some basics on using and interpreting body language in job interviews. They advise practicing these actions before interviews, to become comfortable with them:
Open and Confident Body Posture
Walk in with an erect but relaxed posture. Keep your head up with shoulders back, but relaxed. When you sit, choose a position ideal for making eye contact.
In the interview, show you’re listening by leaning slightly forward. Alternate between sitting up and leaning in, to indicate you’re engaged.
Arms and Hands
Don’t fold your arms in front of you. You’ll appear defensive and closed. If your chair has arms, use them. If you’re seated at a table, rest your forearms on it. Here’s what to do with your hands:
Folded Over Each Other: If you’re sitting at a table or desk, placing one hand on top of the other makes you appear confident but relaxed.
Interlaced Fingers: Lightly interlacing your fingers will help if you’re fidgety. But tightly folded fingers may make you look tense.
Steepled: Holding your hands in front of you with fingertips touching makes you look thoughtful but relaxed. But alternate this with the other hand-holding suggestions here, to show you’re engaged.
Virtual Interview: To keep from fidgeting, you can sit on your hands. No one will see that you’re doing this.
Your gestures go a long way in conveying confidence, engagement and enthusiasm.
Handshake: Offer your hand, grasp your interviewer’s hand firmly, make eye contact and smile.
Head Nods and Tilts: Nod and/or tilt your head in response to what the interviewer is saying. But don’t overdo it with bobble-heading.
Hand Gestures: Use subtle hand and arm gestures sparingly to make a point. Make sure these movements are natural and reserved. Jerky, flamboyant or too-frequent hand gestures can be distracting and convey nervousness or aggression.
Study yourself in the mirror and practice keeping your expression pleasant and natural. Smile at appropriate times. If you have trouble with this, think of something that makes you happy.
Interpreting Your Interviewer’s Nonverbal Messages
Your own body language is only half of the equation in job interviews. Rely on your understanding of this to interpret the body language of your interviewers.
Some of their cues will tell you you’re doing well, so you should keep going in the same direction. Other gestures will indicate that they’re losing interest in you, so you should shift gears to win them back.
Trust your instincts and choose just a few of their cues to keep an eye on, such as:
Mirroring: When your interviewer mirrors your movements, you can assume things are going well.
Eye Contact: If your interviewer stops making eye contact, it could be a warning sign. Try asking a question or volunteering additional information about a subject you have been discussing.
And Pay Attention to Your Digital Body Language in Your Job Interview
Because digital communication has, for the most part, become the primary form of interaction in the workplace, how we present ourselves digitally is extremely important.
Teamwork and collaboration expert, and author of Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan, said in an interview on LinkedIn:
“We don’t walk the talk. We don’t talk the talk anymore. We write the talk first.
We now infuse what I call digital body language, which are all of the cues and signals that make up the subtext of our messages now.
Everything from the choice of our communication medium, did we choose to LinkedIn, email, or Slack, to our response time? Did we respond in two minutes, two days, two weeks, to our punctuation? How many exclamation points or emojis did we use? They are signals that make or break how others feel about us in a modern marketplace.”
Get a foot in the door with the right digital body language
Dhawan’s advice to job seekers trying to build connections and get a foot in the door:
“Remember when it’s appropriate to err on the side of formality, be succinct, be to the point, have a very clear subject line in an email, or in an InMail of exactly what you’re looking for. Did you get to the point quickly or did you send a long prose that really no one wants to read in today’s world where everyone is busy?
If you’re cold emailing someone, make sure you’re thoughtful about attaching the resume. Make sure you have a clear subject line that specifically answers what you need from them so they can help support you. Try to avoid phrases like, “How’s the weather?” Or, “How are you?”
I actually say that respect and empathy in digital body language is respecting their time, their inboxes and their schedules. But really more than ever, it really starts by being prepared. Do your research. Understand what the job recruiter or agency is looking for. Don’t have a cookie cutter language. Be authentic. Share what’s unique about you, but also get to the point and be specific.”
Mind Your Body Language in a Virtual Job Interview
And her advice for virtual interviews:
“The first impression looks different. It used to be the first seven milliseconds that someone met you in person. And now it’s really how you show up on a video screen, is that knee jerk first judgment or reaction from someone that is considering hiring you. So a couple key tips.
First of all, if you haven’t yet, be thoughtful and get a $50 webcam and light. Remember this is like the new dressing up at work. It can either make or break executive presence.
Secondly, when you’re trying to connect with someone, especially for the first time in a Zoom interview, actually look into the camera. Research shows that we tend to make eye contact about up to 60% of the time, face to face.
Make sure that your positioning is set up. You’re far away enough where people can see some of your hand gestures, but they can also still see your facial expressions.”
Get more tips in my article, Nail Your Virtual Interviews – 21 Things You Need To Know, Do and Master