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by Natalie Fisher | February 17, 2017


When you get a call for a job interview, you feel both excited and nervous at the same time. Immediately, a bazillion questions start running through your head.

"How can I prepare?"

"What questions should I study?"

"What if they ask me trick questions?"

You may be the perfect fit on paper. It is likely that everyone who's invited in for an interview at this point could be a "perfect fit." The resumes they screened revealed who has the qualifications they're looking for, so they already know you're a capable candidate.

Meeting for an in-person interview is a whole different ball game.

Here are 3 psychological hacks that will help you seal the deal during your next interview.

1. The Likeability Factor

The truth is likeability is more important than skills, intelligence, or experience. The person who is most likeable will get preference. Interviewers just can't help themselves. It's usually subconscious, because they're only human.  

You might think it's unfair and even unprofessional to choose this way, and you would think that given the choice between someone who is highly competent yet unpleasant vs. someone who is extremely likeable but a total idiot, the obvious choice would be the competent jerk, right?

I thought so too. However, as it turns out, a Harvard Business Review study shows that people say that they'd choose the competent jerk in theory, but in practice they actually pick the lovable fool. For many reasons (even though interviewers don't like to admit it, even to themselves), the lovable fool wins. Here are a couple of soundbites from the study:

"If someone is liked, his colleagues will seek out every little bit of competence he has to offer."

"Sometimes it can be difficult to pry the needed information from the jerk, simply because he is a jerk."

2. The 180 switch factor

At the end of the interview, for example you might normally ask:

  • What are the top 3 goals for the department in the next 3 months?
  • What would the successful candidate do to alleviate stress from her future boss?

What if you started asking your questions at the beginning instead of waiting until the end?

The answers to these questions would provide great insight! If you ask them at the end, then what do you do with the information? You say, "OK, great that sounds good! Thanks for the info?"

You really needed this info back at the beginning. You could've used it to share what you would bring to the table to get them to those departmental goals! You need those answers to share what you do to alleviate your own stress, so doing this for your boss would be a no-brainer!  

Just like you tailor your resume to what's relevant to the job at hand, your interview should be no different. Your resume got you the interview, so use the same technique to let the interview get you the job.

3. The "But You Are Free" Factor

Reminding your interviewer in a subtle way that they're free to choose is another strategy based in psychology that has powerful persuasive powers. This is the "but you are free" (BYAF) principle, and it explicitly reminds the person that he or she is free to hire whomever they like.

The goal of an interview is to "convert" the interviewers. A study done at Western Illinois University surveyed over 22,000 people, and when BYAF technique was used, conversion rates doubled!

Reminding your interviewer that they have the freedom to decide (even though they obviously already know) is just a simple reminder that stacks the deck in your favor. At the end of your next interview, you can close like this:

"I'd love to work with you, and I really enjoyed meeting you, regardless of who you decide to hire."

Feeling uncertain before an interview sucks. Now that you know a few of the psychologically based factors that drive people, you'll have a dramatically different result during your next interview. Just imagine leaving that room feeling confident with your head held high. To start with, choose one of the techniques above and try it out at your next interview.

Natalie Fisher is an enthusiastic HR Generalist who loves her job! She's been on over 50 interviews and received 48 job offers. Download her Free Guide: How to Nail an Interview You're Unqualified For. 



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