What is it about successful candidates that ultimately wins them the job?
Most people would point to an impressive resume, top-notch interviewing skills or even a particularly snazzy suit. But recent research suggests that there is another factor in play: the interviewer liked them. When you think about it, these findings make sense. Hiring managers are people too, and we’re all more likely to gravitate towards those people we feel that we connect with on a personal level.
So, while it’s not a replacement for a great skillset and adequate preparation, getting your interviewer to warm to you could give you that crucial edge when job hunting.
It’s super simple, but super effective. Science proves what most of us already knew intuitively - when people smile at us, we like them more. So make sure you show your interviewer your pearly whites!
Even better, when we smile at people they are more likely to remember us; pretty crucial if you want to stand out from all the other candidates vying for your dream job.
As a bonus, the mere act of smiling has been shown reduce stress levels and make us feel happier - helping you to relax if you’re nervous about the interview.
The fact is that most of us are pretty firmly convinced that the way we see the world is the right way to view it. As such, we like people who appear similar to ourselves. And when we’re interviewers, we hire people we think are similar to ourselves.
To take advantage of this psychological quirk, play up any shared interest you and your interviewer happen to share. If they’re looking through your CV and happen to mention they went to the same university or also spend a gap year in Australia, engage them in conversation about it. If their self-described management style aligns with the way you prefer to work, expand upon that.
(If you use this technique though, don’t lie or let small talk overshadow your interview. Good hiring managers will still care more about your skill set than whether you also take your coffee black.)
For most people, our job is a huge part of our life and our identity. Consequently, we tend to take it very poorly when people insinuate that what we do isn’t particularly interesting or impressive.
It’s fine to go into an interview unsure about whether you really want the job. But never let the interviewer perceive doubt or a lack of enthusiasm about the role. Even if they don’t consciously process it this way, a candidate who seems bored or sneery about their job is likely to sit badly in their esteem. Which is bad luck if you decide you do want the role!
For a sneak peek into how personally people take any perceived slight on their company, check out this story about an engineer who lost a job offer after the hiring manager found an online post from him musing about how the hiring manager’s company wasn’t an “exciting a brand name to have on your resume”.
After leaving your interview, send the hiring manager a quick thank-you note via email. Keep it brief, but say that it was a pleasure to meet them, and that you enjoyed learning more about the opportunity. (N. B. Only do this if the aforementioned sentiments are true; if you interviewed with the corporate equivalent of Hannibal Lecter, skip the thank-you note).
For something that takes under five minutes of your time, the payoffs could be huge. While it won’t rescue you from a terrible interview performance, it could make the difference when the decision is close. Not only will it make you look enthusiastic about the role (see above), it will endear you to the interviewer as someone who is polite, professional, and considerate.
Beth Leslie is a career and lifestyle writer, and editor of the Inspiring Interns blog, which provides graduate careers advice. Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream job or internship. Click here to browse their London-based graduate jobs, and here for their graduate jobs Manchester page.
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