Ever heard the phrase fake it till you make it? Turns out there’s some truth to it. Here’s a simple tip to make your next job interview, speech, or negotiation more successful.
Could standing like Superman or Wonder Woman make you more likely to be hired?
Imagine you’re about to walk into a big job interview. You spent months working your connections, sending out resumes, and trying to find an in.
Finally they called. They liked what they saw on paper and now they want to meet you to find out more. So you put on your best suit, brush your teeth till your gums hurt, and arrive 20 minutes early just to make sure you’re ready to go.
But now you’re nervous. What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t have enough experience? What if someone else is more charismatic? Your head starts spinning as you hide in the bathroom trying to muster up the courage and conviction that will get you hired.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to increase your chance of success. Power posing.
Powerful people tend to be more successful and get what they want. They’re more assertive, confident, and often come off as more poised and polished. But some intriguing research shows that how you stand (or sit) can actually make anyone feel more powerful, and lead to similar effects.
In the wild, higher status animals often take expansive, open postures. To assert their rank, chimpanzees puff themselves up to seem larger. Peacocks fan their tail feathers to attract mates. We see the same displays in the human kingdom. The confident speaker strides across the stage, voice booming. The boss puts his or her feet up on the table to show they are in charge.
But it’s not just that powerful people take these poses, merely enacting such powerful poses can make anyone feel more powerful.
Expansive, open body postures can increase testosterone, decrease stress, and make people feel more in control. Merely standing tall for a few minutes with your hand on your hips, for example, or leaning over a desk (or sink) with your hands firmly placed on the surface can make people feel more to more confident and assertive.
Practicing such power poses right before an interview can also increase performance. Holding these body postures for just a couple minutes, for example, led people to be evaluated more favorably and increased their chances of getting hired by 20%. All because they gave better presentations.
So the next time you’re worried about a job interview, an important presentation, or a tough negotiation, take a few minutes before and strike a power pose. Not right in front of the interviewee (that might not go so well), but in the bathroom, backstage or before leaving home.
Faking it might just help you make it.
Jonah Berger is a professor at the Wharton School and author of the New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.