Faced with a huge number of qualified candidates, many of whom look the same on paper, an interviewer has to find a way to pick a winning candidate. All things being equal, people hire people they like and can see fitting in with their existing team. In fact, even when one candidate is slightly stronger in skills and experience, the winning personality may get the nod over the stronger resume.
Why is this? First, we all want to be around people who we like. This doesn’t necessarily mean people like us. But we look for common ground – common interests, values and passion for the job. In addition, since there are only a few jobs left in the world for cubicle trolls, your ability to work with others and get things done with influence rather than authority is critical to success.
But how do you do that in the short space of time in an interview? First, you want to create a conversation out of the interview. Follow a response to a question with a question. Engage in conversation; don’t be an answer-bot. Second, ask and be curious about corporate culture, values and ethics. Demonstrate how you match up with those of the company you wish to work for. Finally, engage with the interviewer. Show genuine interest in him or her both as an employer and a person. When they ask you about your hobbies or interests, ask about theirs. See where you can find common ground.
We become friends with people because of what we have in common. The friendship is deepened and enhanced by our differences – the ‘spice’ of a relationship. But it starts with what we have in common. They already have your resume. Use the interview to demonstrate the kind of person you are and the kind of team player you will be. When they can see you on the team, you’re halfway to getting that job.
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