Ace the Interview Tip: What’s your body language saying about you?

Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School in her TED Talk Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are demonstrates how "power posing -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and can impact your chances for success’’ and in particular, interview success.

So, what’s your body language communicating about you in job interviews? 

Sweeping judgements are made about who is hired and promoted based on body language. Specifically, interview candidates are judged on approachability, likeability, openness, sense of confidence and ability to do the job - all before the first interview question is asked!

Not only do our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us but our nonverbals also govern how we think and feel about ourselves.  Consciously or unconsciously we are continually expressing to ourselves and others our sense of power and competence.

In the interview waiting room:

Let’s start in the interview waiting room – are you projecting confidence and capability?  Is your body language open: chin slightly lifted, at ease in your seat, looking comfortable?   In other words, are you occupying the space versus the space occupying you?  Alternatively, are you sitting still, making yourself small and insignificant?   When humans and animals feel powerless they close up.  We wrap into ourselves (arms and legs crossed; body language closed off) - we unconsciously want to make ourselves smaller.

During the interview:

Are you leaning slightly forward with your arms resting on the table?  Are you demonstrating you are ready to engage in a conversation, or is your body language one of sitting small and timidly, hands underneath the table, hidden from view?  Note:  The latter is the body language of powerlessness, and women are particularly more likely to exhibit these powerless nonverbal cues. These subtle differences tell interviewers if you are confident in your abilities and talents.

Interview Body Language Tips: 

Cuddy recommends:  "fake it ‘til you make it".  Going through the motions of sitting and standing taller, shoulders back and chin up will create a behavioural outcome that makes you seem more powerful plus you will feel more powerful. Her research supports that as you ”fake’’ projecting confidence, you actually become more assertive, confident, optimistic – and even think more abstractly (a great benefit when asked some of those complex interview questions). 

In her TED Talk, Cuddy highlights “2 minute Power Poses” .  If you are heading into a socially stressful situation – a job interview, a networking event, speaking engagement, these 5 poses can make the difference between showing up as capable and confident, or timid and unsure. 

Next time you are waiting for your interview avoid being the typical interview candidate who’s sitting down, busy on their smartphone, or reviewing notes, and hunched over making themself small.   Instead, stop by the bathroom and privately do Cuddy’s “Power Poses’’.  Her research is tried and true – it will make the difference in you showing up confident and powerful in your next job interview.

Wishing you much career success!


Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice.


Going on interviews and not landing offers?  Let’s connect for a complimentary telephone Interview Audit.   I’ll review your previous interviews to determine what you need to do to ace the interview and start landing job offers. 

© 2004-2013 JL Careers, Vancouver BC, Canada

JL Careers provides Career and Leadership Coaching, Career Development Workshops, and Career Transition Services which support organizational succession planning, leadership development and employee engagement strategies.