16 Jan How to look and feel POWERFUL in your next interview… even if you are not.
We all know the importance of making a good first impression, and the importance of body language in doing this. It’s probably the single biggest weakness we see in job seekers attending interviews- they often let nerves get the better of them, which translates through poor body language as a negative attitude or presence.
Here are a few common mistakes we see with body language:-
- Poor posture- slouching (lazy), leaning forward (like you going to make a run for it) and leaning back (too casual), can all send the wrong message. Sit up straight, without being rigid and look alert and engaged.
- Eye Contact- make eye contact, especially when shaking hands, but be careful to not stare too long or have fidgety eyes- constantly looking around- like your attention is elsewhere.
- Keep your arms neutral- don’t cross them, hold them behind your back or put them in your pockets.
- Don’t fidget and bounce. This is the most common. Interview nerves bring out the bouncy leg, the itches and hair that constantly needs adjusting. And this nervous energy is distracting the interviewer from what you are actually saying.
If poor body language can make us appear nervous, incapable, submissive, unconfident and negative, then what if the opposite was true? What is we posed with the correct, empowering body language- would this make us feel and appear confident, positive, assertive and optimistic? This is exactly what Amy Cuddy discovered in her research:-
Our minds may change our body (language),
but our body (language) can also change our minds!
Amy Cuddy researched one of life’s most simple tricks- Power Posing. Power Posing is the act of taking a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel confident, to make yourself more dominant. (Its seen in nature with an ape banging his chest, a snake rises to attack and birds extend their wings and tail feathers to assert themselves.) Her research showed that sitting or standing in a certain way, for as little as two minutes, raises testosterone levels and lowers stress hormones, and ultimately effects the way you interact with people. Power Posing is especially beneficial when facing a “social threat” where you are being evaluated, such as negotiating deals, pitching ideas and job interviews.
Power Poses involve stretching the body to take up more space and appear more powerful. Take a minute to stand up, feet slightly apart, hands on hips, shoulders back and chin slightly raised. Or lean forward and put your hands on the desk, placed wider than your shoulders. I am sure that you immediately feel the power shift if you have been sitting hunched over your computer or desk.
If you have 15 minutes to spare, and want to find out more, I would strongly recommend that you follow the link and watch Amy Cuddy explain power poses, give examples of various poses and show you how you can “Fake it until you Become it” (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are) ! This article also elaborates more on 8 power poses for work, has some great pictures to illustrate the point. (http://www.businessinsider.com/power-poses-interview-body-language-2014-3 )
It’s the little changes that we make in life, that often have the biggest impact. So, before your next interview, don’t sit in reception making yourself as small as possible. Sit up straight, shoulders back, chin up and arms open; or take two minutes in the bathroom or parking lot before the interview, in a power pose.
Empower yourself so that when you leave the next interview, you know that you have showed the best there is of you, and made the best possible first impression!