I was inspired to write this post after watching an awesome Ted Talk with Amy Cuddy. If you have 20 minutes, it is worth watching whether you are in the job search process or not! If you have less than 20 minutes, skip to around the 13 minute point in the video and that is when Amy starts talking about body language and the interview process.
Click here to watch Amy’s TED Talk
Amy’s talk is about the power of body langage, not just when you’re in the moment and having an interaction but instead, before the moment. Her experiment proved that the way you position your body before a big event (interview, important meeting, etc.) can actually change the outcome of that event. Her findings prove that “acting big” or positioning your body in a dominant way will bring you confidence. And “acting small” or crossing your legs, hunching over, taking up as little space as possible, will have the opposite effect.
Our bodies change our minds… and our minds change our behavior… and our behavior changes our outcomes…
She makes a good point, and the evidence is really compelling. So let’s really think about the reality of walking into an interview. You’re nervous, confused about where to go, and end up waiting for your interviewer. If you’re early (and you should be!) you will have even more time to sit and wait. I’ve greeted hundreds of candidates in reception areas and what are they doing?
Looking down at their iphone, arms folded, hunched over, etc. Basically they’re doing whatever it takes to not “look awkward” and therefore are positioning inward and away from the environment. If you believe Amy, and I very much do, you’ll want to be doing quite the opposite.
While waiting for your interviewer to come get you, sit upright and observe your surroundings. Sit there “like you own the place”, like you already belong there. Sit there openly with the thought of this is my office, I belong here, I feel confident that I will return here day after day to come to work.
Amy’s research shows that doing this vs. the more common “iphone checking” default will actually make you perform better in your interview. It’s almost too crazy to believe but if there is even a chance that the way you spend these 5-10 minutes could change your outcome, isn’t it worth a try?