I am currently reading “:59 seconds : Think A Little Change A Lot” by Professor Richard Wiseman. Its a great read taking academic study and psychological research to bust open some popular self help myths and actually give weight to others.
On the topic of persuasion Wiseman looks at three ways of giving the perfect interview:
1. Likeability is more important than skill set, achievement or work experience
Chad Higgins from the University of Washington and Timothy Judge from the University of Florida studied over 100 students as they interviewed for their first jobs after leaving college. They looked into how the interviewers made up their minds. The data suggested that the candidate appearing to be a pleasant person was one of the most influential factors.
Wiseman suggests for success, giving more genuine compliments, showing a real interest in the person you meet, the role and the company. Maintain eye contact and remember to smile. Show enthusiasm.
2. Build weaknesses into the beginning of the interview and end on a high note
1970’s psychologists Edward Jones and Eric Gordon from Duke University conducted an experiment looking at when to drop a bombshell during an interview. The participants trusted someone more if they revealed negative points early on appearing open and distrustful if left to the end. They also felt that mentioning a strong achievement at the beginning was more akin to bragging than when left to the end, much more modest.
3. If you make a mistake, don’t over-react!
It is more than likely that you have noticed the error more than they have. Excessive apologising will only draw it more attention. Only acknowledge if appropriate otherwise just completely ignore.
This point comes from one of my favourite experiments in Wiseman’s book. Thomas Gilovich from Cornell University did some preliminary study and discovered that most Cornell students would be very embarrassed to be seen wearing a Barry Manilow t-shirt. He got a group of five students together to arrive at the same time and take a questionnaire, he then asked a sixth student to arrive five minutes later and wear a t-shirt with Barry’s face on. Upon arrival he was faced by a row of staring students, he then left shortly afterwards. Gilovich asked how many students noticed what he was wearing on his t-shirt and only 20% noticed Barry. When the latecomer was asked to estimate how many noticed he put the figure at 50%. This experiment and many like it, highlight how much the embarrassed individual over- estimates how noticeable their behaviour or appearance actually is.
However, based on absolutely no science whatsoever, I would like to point out at this point that I don’t think a t-shirt featuring Barry Manilow would increase your chances of anything positive?
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Sarah Cooper has over 14 years Recruitment experience gained in both an internal and agency environment. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy Ltd, specialist Finance and HR Recruiters, she is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow her tweets @approachmarket