Do you usually think that it's what you say that counts the most in terms of getting a job offer? Think again!
That's not to say that you shouldn't go into an interview fully prepared to get your message across, ask good questions, and answer questions skillfully. You must do so to be competitive. But new research indicates that how you stand and sit may have more impact on how you are perceived that you imagine.
Harvard Magazine has a fascinating article called "The Psyche on Automatic." Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has found that, in order to be considered competent, you need to be sure that your posture sends the message that you are "powerful." There's a high correlation between perceived power and competence. And your posture is an important way to give the impression that you are powerful - or not.
In a "power posing" study, high power postures are "expansive positions with open limbs" and low power postures are "contactive positions with closed limbs." She advises women MBA candidates to stop crossing their legs and shrinking their physical presence. "Be as big as you are," she says. For men and women, the more you can spread your arms, keep your feet on the floor, and take up maximum space the more you will be perceived as powerful and therefor competent.
"In all animal species, postures that are expansive, open, and take up more space are associated with high power and dominance," Cuddy says.
There's more! Nonverbal cues of confidence and happiness produce a mirroring effect on the person you are with and therefor a sense of connection with the other.
And, a natural smile (which affects the eyes as well as the mouth) releases neurochemicals that "correlate with happy feelings." So, you are more likely to be perceived as warm and competent. These findings go to the "likability" quality that makes such a big difference in being successful in all aspects of life.
The takeaway for interviewing? Make sure that your body and your facial expressions communicate competence, confidence, and warmth - while acing the content part as well! You'll be a strong contender for the job.