Increase your confidence at interview – with power poses?!

I’ve blogged about Interviews several times before (see the Categories list on the right for more), though have never yet mentioned Power Poses! Several of my colleagues brought this to my attention recently, so I thought I’d share their insights with you!power-poses-2

Oprah Winfrey and Mick Jagger displaying typical power poses

One colleague stumbled across a TED talk by Amy Cuddy in her web-browsing.   Amy is an associate professor at Harvard Business School and a social psychologist who does a lot of work on body language.  In her talk about Power Poses, Amy and her collaborators showed that if people held a power pose, like those illustrated by Mick and Oprah above, for 2 minutes,  testosterone levels increased and cortisol levels decreased (Carney et al, 2010).  This is important as testosterone is shown to be associated with feelings of power and cortisol with stress.  This means taking on a short power pose can make you feel more powerful and less stressed!

So can this be applied in a careers context?  Can it help you perform better at interview (some research Amy has done says yes it can), give a more confident presentation, and even network more effectively when researching roles and opportunities? I’m aware that many of you have concerns about performing well at these activities.

Some of what Amy says in her talk resonates with general perceptions.  Sitting with arms crossed or hunched over (typical low power poses) does tend to make you look less confident but Amy’s research implies that it also makes you feel less confident.

Some trainers also suggest that before  going to an interview or giving a presentation, you should be going to a quiet spot to limber up by working your voice muscles (ie talking to yourself – he suggested the train loo for privacy if traveling that way!) and maybe even jumping up and down a little to energise yourself.  This is a technique commonly used by actors to improve their performance on stage.  Now you may wish to add power poses to that (in a quiet room, the train loo….etc!) before you arrive at your interview.

You can view the talk here and see what you think.  Although there is more research to do it could be worth a go.  The worst that can happen is that you’ll feel a bit silly, but at best you may gain that extra bit of confidence you want to improve your performance at interview, or when networking!

Carney, Dana R., Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap. “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.Psychological Science 21, no. 10 (October 2010): 1363–1368.


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