Summary: Before your next job interview, prepare yourself by unlocking the power of your own body language.
TED talks are all the rage these days. TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. One of the most watched TED talks was delivered by Amy Cuddy, Harvard Psychologist. In her talk (which you can watch below this article), Ms. Cuddy reveals how to unleash your boldest self to perform at your peak, heighten your confidence and influence others. In addition to her world famous TED talk, Ms. Cuddy has also written a book entitled “Presence” expounding more in depth on her ‘body language’ talk.
I recommend to all my clients that they both watch her TED talk and read her book Presence or at least the cliff notes before a job interview. Not a novel idea, as Ms. Cuddy and other psychologists often stress ways to embolden yourself before a big interview. I suggest this technique or process for the following reasons.
Interviews are nerve racking and they require us to be genuine and commanding all at the same time while fighting nerves. A job interview is one of lives’ biggest hurdles, and it is usually met with dread, anxiety and regret. Preparation is obviously key, but so is the emboldening of yourself, which can easily be attained by looking at Ms. Cuddy’s TED talk and reading her book. Obviously there are many self-help books out there to choose from, Ms. Cuddy’s just spoke to me.
She states that by accessing personal power, people can achieve “presence”, which she classifies as the state where we stop worrying about the impression we are making and instead adjust the impression we’ve been making on ourselves. She states that we don’t need to go on a grand spiritual quest or complete a 360 degree transformation to harness the power of presence. We just need to push ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our behavior, body language and mindset in our daily lives. It is a more fine-tuned version of the “fake it until you make it” strategy.
Amy Cuddy, in her talk, speaks of “power poses” and how to use that simple technique to liberate ourselves from fear in high pressure situations, perform at our best and connect with others to do the same. I have tried striking a power pose before an important meeting, in the safety of my own home, and have found it uplifting, empowering and emboldening. Ms. Cuddy’s book is filled with stories of people who learned to flourish during stressful times that once terrified them. Her book does help you approach big challenges with confidence instead of dread and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret.
Simply put, presence comes from believing in and trusting yourself – your values and abilities. Because if you don’t trust yourself, how can others trust you? She lists questions in her book that I believe would be helpful and empowering before an interview to ask and answer of yourself before the first handshake.
- What do you THINK about when you’re performing at your best?
- How do you WALK when you’re performing at your best?
- How do you TALK when you’re performing at your best?
To be successful in that interview you need to be able to reflexively recall important moments from your past – when were you truly showing up as the best version of yourself? The moments that made us feel brave, bold and authentic. Thinking ahead of time about how you THINK, WALK AND TALK when you are at your best will activate your nervous system to bring those powerful feelings to the present. These techniques will help you win over the interviewer and land that job you want!
Watch Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy below: