Acing an interview is definitely tougher than it sounds, your nerves can easily get the better of you. If we are honest with ourselves, at some point everyone has been reduced to a dithering fool whilst sitting opposite an icy interviewer. The feeling of walking out of the interview defeated can set you back, leaving you far less confident than when you began your job search. At this point, whether you are an Android Developer, a C# Programmer or a Java Architect, introvert or extrovert is neither here nor there. Your body language in an interview, however, can go a long way in helping you maintain confidence in an interview. In fact, your body language is your secret weapon in an interview, it’s one seemingly minor thing which can have a big impact on the outcome of your interview.
Walk into Your Interview Confidently
We know that the point of an interview is for your potential employer figure out whether they are confident of your skill set; whether you are the right fit for the company and whether or not they actually like you in person. What exactly the interviewer bases these decisions on is unique to each interviewer. What we do know is that one of the most important things, which is largely universal in western cultures, is your confidence. Whether they are directly related or not, we tend to judge someone’s ability by their level of confidence. This is exactly why you want to exude confidence in your interview. Bear in mind however that you never want to cross the line between confidence and arrogance.
What Does Body Language Have to do Confidence?
It’s widely noted how animals increase their size when they are under threat or just in socially tricky situations. Be it to oust an ageing alpha or to win the affections of the opposite sex, animals puff up, spread out their limbs and just generally try to appear larger – this way they have the physical advantage. While in nature its easy to understand why size matters, in business it is less obvious.
Your Body Language in Business
Body language is the single most powerful nonverbal cue. In nature, bigger is better because it signifies stronger genes, virility and power. Similarly, we too draw subconscious conclusions from a person’s body language. Hence the more open and at ease you appear, people assume you are confident and naturally that you are confident for a reason. In business as in poker, getting your foot in the door requires confidence. You are unlikely to make a good impression by shrinking down into your chair.
The Chicken or the Egg?
In her TED Talk, Amy Cuddy explains how regardless of the reason, our minds play follow the leader when we initiate powerful poses and strong body language. When we stand tall we feel confident and when we sink into our chairs we diminish ourselves without even realising it. How to deal with the potential betrayal of your body language? Fake it. Sit up straight, look your interviewer in the eye and don’t fidget. To be even more successful Cuddy recommends taking a moment in private alone, even its only two minutes, stretching your entire body out. Hands up, arms in the air legs spread slightly; just for two minutes.
The Chemistry Behind Big Body Language
Sure it might sound kooky but it has actually been proven that your body language affects the state of your hormones in as little as two minutes. By performing the two-minute exercise of taking a power pose to exude confidence, the subjects in Amy Cuddy’s tests affected their hormones and thus their mood. The subjects increased their testosterone and lowered their cortisol levels leaving them more confident and assertive and less reactive to stress. Measured by saliva samples, the tests repeatedly proved Cuddy’s theory that nonverbal cues ultimately affect how we feel about ourselves.
The Proof is in the Interview
In the second part of the test; the subjects took part in a grueling interview with a deadpan interviewer. An interviewer which is void of expression is by far the most difficult situation for any candidate. Despite this, the subjects of the test who performed the two-minute exercise had a markedly better response from their interviewers than the other test subjects. The exercise had not only balanced their hormones, priming them for better responses but also impacting their ability to present themselves confidently. Essentially they faked it and they became it.
If shyness is your Achille’s heel, in an interview you now have a legitimate way to actually program your brain into coping with the situation. Of course, you aren’t sauntering into the interview room and putting your feet up on the desk, but you are saying ‘I’m here, I’m confident, I’m comfortable and I’m capable’ using powerful non-verbal cues. These cues have the greatest potential to lead to meaningful outcomes. Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviour and our behaviour changes outcomes. You can make yourself powerful.