A student e-mails you the day of a big interview. She’s practiced and looked through her notes, studying like she should for a conversation like this. What should she focus on in the last few minutes before she goes into the room? One last look at the company website for any critical updates? A final check over her resume to make sure she has talking points for her experiences?
Maybe the answer is something else entirely. To boost her self esteem, she should spend about two minutes standing in power poses right before she goes into the room. Why? Because it will make her more confident in the interview and a more desirable candidate. That’s what one Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy, discovered in her research on body language.
In the past, scientific studies have proven that when you smile, it triggers changes in your brain and body that can actually make you happier, which then makes you smile. So, maybe Buddy the Elf really was on to something (“I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” – This gets me every time.). Cuddy wanted to know if the same could be said for body language. Body language changes the way others think of us, but can it also change our thoughts on ourselves?
The answer is yes. Cuddy’s research found that standing in confident, positive poses changes the chemistry in your brain, boosting hormone levels related to confidence and decreasing hormone levels related to stress. Taking it a step further, research subjects in one of Cuddy’s studies who were instructed to sit or stand in power poses, making their bodies big and wide, for two minutes prior to an interview performed significantly better in that interview than those who did the opposite. Those who did take the power poses were rated by observers as someone who would be a great hire.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out Cuddy’s TED talk. If you want to skip right to the interview study, start the video at about 10:00. The whole clip is fascinating.
So, NACE blog readers, who’s up for a round or two of power posing at the 2014 NACE conference? I’m starting my practice now.