I recently began reading The Science of Likability: 27 Studies to Master Charisma, Attract Friends, Captivate People and Take Advantage of Human Psychology by Patrick King. I am always fascinated by what makes people attractive and drawn to someone else. These are areas I’ve struggled with for most of my life, and I take any opportunity I can to learn more about them and more importantly, put the lessons into practice.
In the context of job interviewing, likability cannot be underestimated. If you’ve gotten to the point where you are sitting on the other side of the table (or phone or screen) from a hiring manager, you can rest assured that you meet the basic, on-paper qualifications for the role in question. Your goal now is to win them over. Convince them that you’re the right fit. Get them to like and, more importantly, trust you.
This is why I will be focusing much of Candorfeed’s content on applications from this book and the lessons I draw out of them as they apply to job interviews. The first topic I am going to cover is how to put people in a better mood.
Unlike in the financial markets, the past can certainly be an indicator or a guide to success when you’re looking to hit it off with someone. Let me explain what I mean. Trying to figure out what will make someone like you is too difficult and risky through guesswork. You have no idea if they’ll take to you or not. But what you can do is research what they do like, and in the same manner as Ivan Pavlov with his dog, associate yourself with what makes them happy.1
Now that we know these associations can be constructed, we need to figure out how to apply it in a job interview. There are two ways in which you can bring up things that put the interviewer in a happy mood: 1) in your answers to their questions; and 2) in your questions to them (whenever you ask them). Your best bet is to find these likable moments in the second way, with your questions.
Here is why I believe your questions are the key to likability and your real opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates. First, your quest to put your interviewer in a good mood begins before you even walk in the door. Presumably, you have been given the name of your interviewer by HR at least a few days prior to arriving. Check their LinkedIn profile. Really study it. Find out where they’ve been in their work history, what types of things they write about in their job details, what they’ve written in their summary, what recommenders have said about them, what they have said when recommending people. All of this will give insight into what drives them and to what they will respond.
By bringing up things that are important to them, as evidenced by their profile, you’re effectively sending them back to that time and place. Repeat this enough and they will begin to associate not just those experiences with their happiness, but also YOU with their happiness. Just like Pavlov’s experiment, you’ll become the bell to their food!
There is also the approach of asking them to conjure in their own mind what experiences they’ve enjoyed the most with the company. This offers a two-fold benefit. First, you can gauge if you will be fulfilled in the job in question based on how others react to what goes on at the company. If the interviewer talks about a great business deal that he or she just closed and how challenging and rewarding the negotiation process was, you know that if you like negotiations you’re probably going to like the role. Second, as mentioned before, talking about past good experiences will put the interviewer in a good mood and subconsciously regard you favorably when the time comes to making a hiring decision.
One of the interesting parts of asking these questions is that you can interject them at virtually any time during the interview. The interview process is no longer binary where there is a clear separation point between: 1) you answering questions; and 2) you asking questions.2 This will give you an earlier chance to connect with your interviewer, put them in a comfortable mood, and increase your chances of being hired.
Pete Sukits, Candorful Cofounder, June 2018
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1) “What is Classical Conditioning and Why Does it Matter?” https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/what-is-classical-conditioning-and-why-does-it-matter/
2) “Ten Job Interview Rules You’re Allowed to Break Now” https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2018/05/19/ten-job-interview-rules-youre-allowed-to-break-now/#210f3a2278e5