Another fascinating book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, the author of “The Luck Factor,” a great treatise on harnessing cognitive therapy techniques to increase serendipity (my review is on shelfari.com and Amazon, if you’re interested) crossed my desk some time ago. This new work, “59 Seconds,” offers a myriad of suggestions on happiness, motivation, relationships, decision making, et al, all of which can be accomplished in under a minute (do you get the title now?!).
One chapter, Persuasion, includes some fascinating insights on how to have your best performance in a job interview. As is always the case with Wiseman, the three suggestions offered are backed by empirical research. While admitting that virtually all interviewers are seeking to select the candidate who best matches the requirements of the position, there are clearly significant subjective factors that all interviewees should consider to stand out from the crowd (as opposed to comeing to the interview in an orange jump suit).
Ready? Here they are . . .
Be likeable. Take the time to learn things you like about the organization, products, services, etc. and share them in the interview. Seek to connect with the interviewer in areas of related interest. Feel free to be complimentary to both the individual and the company. Show enthusiasm. Smile frequently and maintain appropriate eye contact.
Be honest. Research seems to bear out that you are better sharing any shortcomings you may have early in the interview, not near the end. This type of open, up front communication tends to boost credibility. Also, save some of your strongest qualifications for the finish. It not only demonstrates modesty, it provides a strong close to the interview.
Don’t panic. Do your best not to overreact if you feel you’ve really made a major mistake. In most cases it is likely more noticeable to you than to the interviewer. Apologizing extensively or focusing on a faux pas tends to accentuate, not correct the mistake. Simply acknowledge it and move on. For example, one of the experiments cited under this theme involved individuals wearing Barry Manilow T-shirts on a college campus. As embarrassed as the the test subjects were, only 20% on average of the people who saw them even noticed what they were wearing!
As important as qualifications are, research consistently highlighted the following question, per Wiseman: “Did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person?”
See, your mother was right when she told you to “Be nice!”