Truth be told, we all want to be liked. If you had a choice between individuals disliking us or truly thinking the world of us – obviously we desire to be liked. We can haggle or bicker over why people ultimately get hired for a job, but let’s be honest with ourselves – it is because the individual was liked by the decision-maker.
A candidate may have a spectacular resume, experience beyond belief and references that can battle the Fortune 500 for prominence but if during the interview that individual comes off as someone we don’t want to spend at least 8 hours a day with – they won’t be hired for the job!
When you ask recruiters and employers why one candidate is chosen over another, they will explain that it was a gut feeling or an innate decision. What they are really saying is that there were many candidates with impeccable credentials and that the deciding factor was their comfort with this particular individual.
For those who have interviewed or interview candidates on a regular basis, you can tell almost instantly if there is a chemistry. There have been times that in the first minute or two you can tell that this really isn’t the right place or the right candidate. You can continue for another 50 minutes going through the interview process, but rarely will that immediate reaction change your decision on that candidate.
I recently read an article where an employer admitted that she hired an individual because she reminded her of herself when she was of that age. Decision-makers have numerous filters and rationale for the choices they make but we all have certain comfort areas and would we rather work side by side with someone that we are comfortable with or someone who is very qualified but for whatever reason is not a fit within our group?
Here are some ideas for a positive first reaction:
1) Google the interviewer prior to arriving. You may have something in common – college, hometown or maybe even a mutual friend. Make sure you use this information in your conversation.
2) Dress professionally with appropriate attire. A dark suit or dress is mandatory. Nothing flashy and nothing that will detract from the decision-maker listening to your words rather than looking at what you are wearing.
3) Upon entry in the interview location, make sure you are pleasant and have your best smile in place. Not that smile that looks like you would rather be elsewhere but a smile that you have when you are glad to see someone. By the way, in today’s world you should always be thrilled to have an interview!
4) If there is a receptionist make sure you are friendly with her. It is surprising that on occasion they do have input on such a decision – even if it is in passing.
5) Have some pleasant chit-chat prepared for the office walk to the interview. A story about the drive over or a laugh you had in the morning. Something to break the ice and more importantly that shows you aren’t a nervous wreck and that you are a pleasant person. How about mentioning that it is your Aunt Mary’s birthday – by the way she is now 96! Please, please make sure you don’t have a nervous and annoying laugh of any kind.
6) A firm and attentive handshake goes a long way. If you perspire – make sure that hand is dry for the interaction. Be cognizant about personal space and remember this is not your best friend you’re dealing with so no patting on the back or unprofessional conversations.
7) Make sure you maintain continual eye-contact, be attentive and though you want to be comfortable in the chair make sure you are sitting straight with both feet firmly on the floor.
8) This is not the time to warm up to an eventual crescendo. You need to get the interviewer(s) attention and interest immediately. Your A material is need initially.
It is important to get a positive first reaction and by using some of the techniques mentioned you may indeed keep the interviewer’s attention beyond the first few minutes. It is obvious that you need a strong close, just like any other salesperson but let’s be honest – without an impressive introduction you might not ever get that opportunity.
I thank all of you for the minor indulgence of including a mention of Aunt Mary in today’s blog. For those of you who have followed my posting over the last few months, you may remember her as the relative who sends me obituary notices from the newspaper – just in case I would like to apply for the job the person just vacated. Since I have mentioned Aunt Mary in my first and 50th postings I thought it very appropriate for her to be mentioned in today’s 100th posting.
Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career. He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide in the last 25years who has been granted such a prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives. He currently is between positions and has written more than 500 words or 100 blog posting on the topics of job search and career transition. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright: MXXI. Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.