The fashion industry is big business. Employing an estimated 23.6 million people worldwide it’s clear why many people are clamouring to join this fast paced industry. With over 100 fashion school’s worldwide competition is fierce as each summer graduates hang up their gowns, dust off their CV’s and fight for a seat at the table. Metaphors aside, psychologists have found that if you are in fact lucky enough to earn yourself an interview the way in which you take the seat across from your potential employer can be the difference between a second interview and an email that contains the words ‘Thank you’ and ‘Unfortunately’. 

 Anxious, nervous, self-conscious these are just some of the emotions we feel before an interview and a lot of it can be boiled down to power.  In an interview, the interviewer not only has power over the job but also over the candidate’s future placing them in a position of great power one that can induce an intense feeling of powerlessness in the latter (Cuddy, Wilmuth & Carney 2012). Without our knowledge, this feeling of powerlessness can be read all over our faces and through our body language. We embody this feeling by adopting non-verbal cues such as shrinking into our chairs, hunching over into our phones, biting our nails and averting our gaze and such behavioural cues have been linked to a distinct hormonal pattern: low testosterone and high cortisol. Testosterone has been linked to confidence and power in both men and women for example, ‘testosterone rises in anticipation of a competition and as a result of a win, but drops following a defeat’ (Carney, Cuddy & Yap, 2010). Cortisol on the other hand has been linked to both stress and feelings of powerlessness.  Unsurprisingly, during instances of low power, such as in a job interview testosterone levels are low and cortisone levels are high. How can we adjust these levels and rid ourselves of premature feelings of defeat? Psychologists have pointed towards your body for the answer.

Fake it till you make it

FIX YOUR FACE

​The facial feedback hypothesis is a well-known theory in Psychology which suggests that facial movement modulates emotional experience (Psych Central). When you’re feeling anxious or worried the last thing you want to hear is “cheer up, it might never happen’ but putting a smile on your face just might be the answer. Studies have found that when participants are made to exhibit facial movements mimicking a smile they reported feeling happier. This suggests that before stepping into the interview room, slapping a smile on your face can trick you into feeling joyful and self-assured even if your knees are shaking in your pantsuit. 

FIX YOUR POSTURE

​“The proud peacock fans his tail feathers in pursuit of a mate. By galloping sideways, the cat manipulates an intruder’s perception of her size. The chimpanzee, asserting his hierarchical rank, holds his breath until his chest bulges. The executive in the boardroom crests the table with his feet, fingers interlaced behind his neck, elbows pointing outward” (Carney et al, 2010). Studies have shown that power lies in your posture.  Occupying more space in a room by standing up tall, using expressive gestures, leaning forward, placing your feet firmly on the ground and your hands clasped on the table causes a hormonal shift resulting in higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisone (Huang, Galinsky, Gruenfeld & Guillory, 2010). Holding these powerful poses for as little as two minutes can increase feelings of power allowing you to let your capabilities and confidence shine through. The next time you find yourself in the race for employment and you are doubting your capabilities remember to Power Pose, why else would we have the saying ‘Fake it ‘till to make it’. 

​Do you know any more interview tricks? Let us know in the comment section below!
Author

Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a Fashion Psychologist and writer who has been featured in Marie Claire UK, i-D, Who What Wear, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Voice Newspaper, Gal-Dem, Black Matters US and more.

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