Psychology and Human Behavior in the Job Interview

By Chris Delaney

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The study of the human mind and human behavior is known as Psychology. We have taken the most relevant psychological techniques and made them relevant to the job interview to give you an advantage over the job competition.

Each of these psychological techniques when implemented will increase likeability, rapport and job offers. The use of interview psychology will make a real difference to your job interview directing the interviewer down your desired path, so you are seen as pure gold. The techniques below, although subtle, will have a powerful effect leading the employer to want to recruit you without knowing why. 

Humans ( interviewers) make choices based on their feelings rather then their heads. Each technique will build layer of trust, rapport and likeability, your answers will be taken as credible, you will be perceived as positive and professional, emotionally you will connect with the employer, your selling points will be viewed as unique, in short the employer will be eating out of your hand. 

Remember hiring decisions are made on more than just skills and experience, it's also about “gut feelings” and instinctual reactions the interview gets from the initial meeting to the interview end. The following psychology techniques will give you the edge over other interview applicants.

Speed Dating

Our flight and fight response makes rapid judgments based on previous frames of references. These experiences and emotional memories make us hard wired to stereotype. From an evolutionary point of view, our prejudices can keep us safe from danger, they keep us alive.

Once a danger is detected we will back up this initial assessment by filtering the evidence through our prejudices. Our ancestors the hunter and gatherers may have come across a strange tribe. The initial sweeping statement is “all unknown tribes are a threat” this alert of danger keeps us on our toes, and also creates a “danger” filter. The evidence we view, is filtered through the “danger filter” – they have weapons = danger, their walking towards us = danger, their very muscular = danger. Later our ancestors find that the tribe was peaceful and was just passing through the area, not wanting to fight or attack.

The interviewers hardwired to make an initial assessment of you is hired wired. This assessment is made within a couple of seconds subconsciously. The unconscious mind quickly processes everything you see and hear in a matter of seconds, and puts you into a category.

This is why “wearing an old school tie” works so well. The school tie is assessed and common ground is found which creates likeability. With a “likeability” filter switched on, whatever you say next will be taken positively.
If for someone reason, your stance, look, outfit and even your name is assessed, and the interviewers frame of reference for these is negative you will have to work hard to persuade them you are likable, because we all automatically look for evidence to back up our opinions and beliefs.

A friend of mine went speed dating, she said that she was given a list of names – the people she would sit with for 2-3 minutes. After reading the names, she already had an opinion if she would like the person or not. When the total stranger sat down and tried to make a good impression, my friends initial reaction to simply their name, a name they had no choice in, acted as a filter and she found she had a better 2-3 minute date with those she thought she would like through their name alone.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

When you look at a baby and smile, the baby will smile back at you. In most cases you will look up at the parent happily shouting “she really likes me, she’s smiling!!” when someone smiles, frowns or produces any emotional facial expression part of our brain lights up so we can feel the same emotion.

We call this “mirror neurons.” Mirror neurons are believed to be one of the ways we make snap decisions from people and situations.  Being able to feel the way the other person feels, allows us to predict their behavior.

In the job interview to encourage likability you can smile, knowing that the positive feeling you feel when happy will be reciprocated by the employer. The interviewer thinks I like this person, I have a good feeling about them which creates as positive filter.

To create a real smile in a potential anxious situation, remember a time that you went to a party and seen an old friend that you haven’t seen for many years. Imagine you were there now, and see the friend and party from your own eyes, see what you can see, hear what you can hear and feel how you felt. The smile will automatically come to your face, and it this true smile that you want to show to the interviewer.

Praise the Lord Interviewer

All people welcome praise. Being told how good we are, our key strengths, why we are admired creates a positive feeling. Association works by an emotion being attached to a stimulus.

A psychologist Dr Pavlov would dog ring a bell every time he fed his dog. The dog would see the food and salivate, while at the same time hearing the ringing of the bell.  After several weeks Dr Parlov rang the bell with no food (visual stimulus) and through association, the ringing of the bell made the dog salivate.

In the job interview you need to associate yourself with positively and good emotions. By praising the company, complimenting the interviewer and generally showing enthusiasm, the interviewer will associate you with the good feelings they are having through your obvious enthusiasm for them and the company. 

Sensory Language

We all take in information differently through our senses (Visual, kinesthetic or Auditory) Brain scans we have shown that a visual orientated person will have a large visual lobe then say an auditory person.

As well as filters from our initial assessment of an individual, we also filter the words people say through our own sensory preferences. The interviewers sensory preference will be exposed by the language they choose subconscious when asking the interview questions.

Visual people will use words such as see, visualize, sight, observe, picture.
Kinesthetic will use words including get a grip, touch, grasp, cold, gut feeling
Auditory people may use the following words hear, sound, louder, tune, that rings a bell.

To increase accurate interpretation of your answers you need to word your answers, by using the sensory language naturally preference by the interviewer; is the interviewer uses mainly visual words, answer the interview questions using a visual description. 

Chris Delaney is an Interview Expert and the author of The 73 Rules for Influencing the Interview using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques.

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN at

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