You know it's key for your interviewer to like you, but how do you win them over? If you've ever acted super friendly only to see if fall flat, or tried being ultra-confident to a chilly reception, you'll know that one approach never fits all.
The key may be to come to your interview adaptable--observant and responsive to your interviewer's cues, and ready to act (or react) accordingly.
Here are a few ways you can get on their wavelength:
1. Repeat what you hear
Or, at least their last few words, before you launch into an answer. It proves you're listening and shows a commitment to processing the information they're giving you, and not just rattling off your responses before understanding the question.
Another trick: check your understanding. "So what I'm hearing is, you're looking for somebody who's not afraid to take calculated risks."
2. Ask follow up questions
Showing you're listening is good—by nodding, verbally agreeing, etc.—but asking questions about the topic shows you're actively engaged and eager to learn more. You can even jot notes to look extra engaged, which, bonus: gives you something to refer back to come final question time.
3. Even better: ask questions pertaining to them
The end of the interview questions are a great time for this: after you've asked your other burning, carefully prepared questions (you did have some, right?), and your interviewer asks if there's anything else, show some curiosity about their personal history with the company, their career path, etc, to earn extra points. Even a casual approach—"so what brought you here?" works wonders.
4. Read more literature
Want to get better at understanding and connecting with anyone? Read more books. And no, John Grisham doesn't count. A recent study discovered that reading literary fiction (though not non-fiction or "pot boilers") better equips people to read others' emotional states and intentions. That boost in empathy means better odds of making a connection.
5. Go with the flow
Rehearsing is good, acting rehearsed is bad. One of the best things you can do in an interview is maintain your sense of ease and composure when thrown a curveball. Don't be afraid to take a minute to think if you get a tough question, and don't get flustered if your interviewer wants to discuss something you hadn't planned on talking about.
Keeping a cool head and positive attitude can make a stronger impression than answering the question perfectly. Remember: you want this person to imagine working with you day to day. Showing you can think (graciously) on your feet is a huge positive.
6. Find commonalities
This is where a little research (and LinkedIn) may come in handy. Do you and your interviewer share an alma mater? A former colleague? A love of travel? Be sure to emphasize common interests, friends, or institutions--even a story about that picture of a spot in Hawaii you've been to in their office. It's human nature to bond with people we share commonalities with, so by all means, exploit your similarities.
Genuinely, of course. It can be hard to predict what sense of humor your interviewer has, so hold back a bit on the wisecracks. But smiles? Lay 'em out! Letting your natural kindness shine through your interactions is always a good idea. Don't feel like you have to be stern to seem professional. If something funny happens, or pleasant, or you're sharing a story that makes you smile—let it naturally happen, and goodwill will abound.
8. Show consideration while speaking
Droning, rambling, rattling, prattling—all no-nos. Though obviously, you have to give your interviewer information about yourself, there's never a need for going on and on unchecked. Plan your anecdotes ahead of time: what's the beginning, middle, and end? Which parts are tiresome and what details can be left out? What's the takeaway for the interviewer? Trim stories from the outset to conserve precious time and your interviewer's attention.
Then, while you're speaking, check for non-verbal cues: are you giving the right information? Is he or she confused? Engaged? In need of asking a question? Staying mindful of your audience can help you shift gears if need be, and keep things moving in a productive direction.
9. Be a "mirror"
The easiest, most effective way to convince your interviewer that you'll fit in at the company is to copy his or her body language and manner of speaking. Though you don't want to change your normal self too much, little adjustments to your tone of voice (you'll want to match the interviewer's volume and pace) and your posture (through "mirroring" your interviewer's stance) will go a long way in sending strong, subconscious signals that, on a small scale, you and the interviewer are on the same wavelength--and on a large scale: that you belong at the company.
--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com
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