Supermarket Pyschology in The Job Interview

By Chris Delaney

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Most of us believe that we can’t be influenced, that our intelligence is too high to be manipulated. We wrongly believe that we make our own choices, and no matter how hard persuaders try, their methods and tricks simply wont work.

Have you been influenced? Supermarkets use sales psychology to encourage customers to spend more money. If you have ever been into a supermarket with a list of products and bought additional items, then you have, more than likely been influenced.

Supermarkets are masters of manipulation. The direction of the aisles are set out to ensure you pass by certain goods, the 50% sales signs are printed in particular colours and fonts to catch your eye, even the free samples use the psychology law Reciprocity to encourage you to buy their goods.

These same influential skills can be transferred to the job interview to ensure the job interviewer buys you, thinking that they are getting an irresistible bargain.


The Job Interview Influenced


Supermarkets don’t lie, instead they get you to buy into their product. The association attached to certain goods, supermarket chains and individual products ensure you buy what the supermarket wants you to purchase.
A recent experiment found that a group of shoppers would pay more money for a smaller cake after tasting a small and large version of the same product! Strange I know, but why would a shopper pay more for less?

The answer was in the packaging. The cake in the small box was seen as exclusive, elegant and luxurious, the packaging made the cake taste nicer. In the job interview you have to do the same - ensure that your packaging... the answers you give, the gestures you use and the tone and language used... make you seem a nicer and more expensive product.
There are three simple, but powerful stages you need to follow to increase your success in landing job offers.

Stage 1 – Be Unique

Qualifications alone are not enough to secure you a job offer. Many graduates complain that even though they came out with a 2:1 or 1st they still can’t secure employment. Why? Because hundreds of other people have the same qualification, so why should the employer pick you over a competitive classmate? It's the same with experience, many people will have the same experience in the sector as you, so why employ you?

You need to stand out and be unique. You have to offer the employer something others can't - or reframe what you have (experience/qualifications/skills) so they become irresistible. In the fight for customers supermarkets follow this technique all the time. One supermarket will offer a buy 2 get 1 free, while a competitor will offer 1/3 off today only. The same cost, simply reframed.

The key is to know your unique selling point and how you will add value to the employer’s team; what can you do that others can't, what achievements make you stand out, how will your experience benefit this company? Think about the criteria the employer would most desire and then offer it to them on a plate.


Stage 2 – Likeability 


Supermarkets create brands and likeability knowing that we are more likely to believe the supermarket's advert “cheaper than any other supermarket” if we like their image. This is why supermarkets will use celebrities on their adverts as we unconsciously associate the likeability of the celebrity with the supermarket. 

In the job interview situation it is easy to create a strong rapport. In the initial stage of the job interview start up a conversation to get the interviewer to reveal their likes, values and personality traits. You can follow this up, by slipping into the following conversation how you have similar traits, because people like people who are like them. The interviewer associates the positive feelings from his own likes to you, creating a strong bond. 

Stage Three: Focus on the Future


In most job interviews the interviewee will talk about past successes and achievements, this is good to a point. What really makes a difference is when the interviewee talks about how they can use their unique selling point to make a difference in their company; increase profits, meet KPIs or turnaround an underperforming team. 

The employer is recruiting you for a reason, to complete a task or to achieve a goal, by explaining how you will meet this objective rather then how you were successful in a company you worked for 5 years ago, the employer will create an emotional image of this achievement. This leads to employers having a “gut feeling” about you.

Supermarkets follow this same strategy with points cards. You pay for your shopping and the point card says “you have received 2000 points, you can now get X% off your shopping next week” the customer excitedly wants to return next week for a great deal, but as we all know this discount is already added to the cost of items in the store.


To influence the interview you need to complete all three stages:

• Know your selling point and the key message you want the employer to remember about you. If you are seen as unique or someone who can make a real difference in the business, why would the employer let a competitor employ you?
• Build rapport by finding likeability. Once liked employers will be more inclined to believe your answers and to give you the benefit of the doubt
• Focus on the future. Talking about future successes creates stronger emotional associations and has a more powerful impact then discussing past achievements


Image courtesy of Feelart at

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