Alright, so we have covered a range of general job hunting and interviewing advice and resume tips in other blogs on this site, but now it’s time to discuss nailing the most important part of your job interview and also the most overlooked… the first impression.
Now hold on, I know you may be thinking pffft! Making a great first impression is a no-brainer. Well yes, it should be, but yet, so many people get it wrong and don’t even realise. If you are receiving job interviews, but aren’t getting call-backs despite your best efforts then perhaps your lack of employment success has nothing to do with your credentials and experience, but with your personality instead.
Paul Boross, business consultant, psychologist & author of Pitch Up! has worked with Google and Richard Branson, as well as coached and mentored headliner comedians and BBC newsreaders on their presenting personality-styles worldwide.
This guy is a persona crafting whizz who helps professionals tinker their personalities to optimise their chances of success in job interviews.
You may think you are the epitome of confidence and warmth during job interviews, but what if your self-perception doesn’t line up with reality?
“You may think that your face looks completely pleasant, but other people may look at you differently. The trouble is, it’s impossible to be neutral. You’re always giving off something and you need to be sure that thing is what you mean it to be,” explained Mr Boross.
Mr Boross suggests asking a work colleague or someone else you don’t know very well to give you feedback on what they think of you, what annoys them about you and what you could improve about yourself. An objective third-party will be far more honest than your own family and friends.
“It’s a kind of look in the mirror,” said Mr Boross.
A common mistake people make in interviews when overcome by nerves is bypassing opportunities to create a connection with the interviewer.
“Make sure that you are giving off the aura of present-ness, of fun, of interest. When you are properly engaged with someone, you are completely in that moment, and that’s where the magic happens… people who get jobs are people who know how to create connections instantly,” advised Mr Boross.
It’s a particular type of likeable which is favoured by recruiters. A likeability tied to a warm, outgoing, friendly and fun personality seems to improve the chances of your interview succeeding the most.
“If you think about it, people’s lives are generally quite boring, and if somebody gives you that feeling of being someone who people think is good fun, it makes a difference. People like to think, ‘Oh, I didn’t get the job because my CV wasn’t as good as the other guy’s CV’ but I can pretty much tell you — I’ve worked with big companies and recruiters all over the world — it’ll still come down to ‘do I like the person in the room?’,” expounded Mr Boross.
So how can you improve your likeability? According to Mr Boross, reading is a good start.
Psychologists from the universities of Princeton in the US, and Glasgow in Scotland have determined humans make a judgement call on a person’s trustworthiness within 500 milliseconds of simply hearing their voice!
“Who do we give jobs to? People we like and trust. People give jobs to friends. I would advise anybody [looking for work] to work on their relationship skills, at least as much, if not more, than actually looking for jobs. Psychologically, you have to create that feeling [of trust] in anybody when you walk into the room for the interview,” urged Boross.
Usually people tend to focus on what went wrong in a job rather than what went right. If you have an old boss, manager or colleague you respect and who valued you as part of the team why not shout them to a coffee on their lunch-break and pick their brains a bit in regards to your stint in the business.
“When people ask for feedback from companies they only ask for feedback when they haven’t got the job. Actually what you should be doing is asking for feedback from people who gave you the job or liked you. You need to know that’s the thing that made the difference, that’s what works,” observed Mr Boross.