Your résumé stood out and you made the short list of job interview candidates. Your phone screen went swimmingly. Now Interview Day is here, and you’re in the lobby armed with hard copies of your résumé, a solid list of questions for the interviewer, and knowledge about the company. You’re looking great, not to mention highly qualified for the job. How can you lose?
What matters the most in a job interview…
“You’re hired—or not—on the walk to the interviewer’s office,” a veteran outplacement consultant quipped when I recently met with him to discuss a consulting opportunity. While he was half-joking—he was only half-joking.
The impression you make from the time you enter the building until the time you sit face-to-face with your potential boss matters more than you may think. These minutes are essential to establishing rapport and likeability, a major factor your interviewer will weigh in making a hiring decision.
How can you engage and keep your interviewer interested early on to assure them you’re both qualified for the position and someone they’d like to work with? While it’s important to be prepared for a range of questions you’ll be asked, the key to building rapport those first few minutes is to remember the basics. Here are some guidelines adapted from Great Answers Great Questions for Your Job Interview:
Use a firm handshake
Make sure it’s not too weak but not a vice grip, either. Smile and make eye contact while you do. Ask a friend or family member to give you their opinion on your handshake, so you can be aware of how it comes off.
Look for clues about the personality or culture of the company for icebreaker topics
Observe the artwork, the office environment, or the building surroundings. Mention anyone you might have in common, assuming the interviewer and your connection have a positive relationship. If nothing else fails, there’s always the weather! Just make sure to make some light conversation to make a connection early on.
Speed-read your interviewer’s personality and adapt
Does (s)he seem more gregarious or reserved? Observe their attire and communication style. Are they more casual or formal? Be yourself, but don’t overpower a quieter personality or shy away from an outgoing one.
Wait for the interviewer to sit down first
Wait until your interviewer is situated or has invited you to sit before taking your seat.
Call the interviewer by name, but don’t go overboard
People like the sound of their own name. Use his or her name a few times while you’re talking, but err on the side of formality—Ms. Jones or Mr. Diaz—unless you’ve been told otherwise.
No matter how energized you are by the conversation, don’t interrupt the interviewer at any point during the warm-up period or throughout the meeting. This will demonstrate your ability to listen.
Practicing these basics will reinforce up front to the interviewer the professional, conscientious, and likeable person that you are.
And that consulting gig I mentioned earlier? In those first moments, we chatted about the traffic, talked about the lovely riverside view, and named a few people we had in common. And you know what? I was offered the role, and I’m pretty sure the decision wasn’t 100% based on my skills alone.
Do you think likability is a big factor in being hired? What’s been your experience?
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketer dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job!
Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.