By: Neil Kokemuller
Hiring committees spend hours evaluating applications and preparing interview questions. Quality candidates spend hours preparing and practicing for their interview. Much of the decision often comes down to one simple factor. Are you likable?
Two Key Questions
Despite the thousands of interview questions already in existence and the new ones created daily, hiring managers typically evaluate two key internal questions. One question is, “Why should I hire you?” The other is, “Do I like you?” or, “Would I want to work with you?”
While it is important to spend hours preparing to address the “Why should I hire you?” premise, it is equally important to plan to be likable. You cannot change who you are, but you can show off your likable qualities with an effective plan.
Strategies to Be Likable
Your first impression impacts your likability in a major way. A hiring manager makes judgments about your personality, character and diligence just by observing your interview attire, facial expression, handshake and initial greeting. Get off to a high-impact start by dressing the part, offering a friendly smile and exchanging genuine pleasantries.
Balance confidence with humility. Arrogance is not a likable trait to most hiring managers for most jobs. Relaxed confidence is better. Answer questions with a focus on showing why you match well with the company and position. Don’t project the attitude that the company has no choice but to hire you if it wants to succeed. Genuine confidence means you sell your skills and abilities with confidence answers and compelling examples.
Most importantly, engage the hiring manager or interviewers throughout the process. Look each person in the eyes as you respond. Maintain a relaxed, friendly facial expression. Participate in small amounts of humor if your intuition tells you the hiring manager is open to it.
End the interview on a strong note by showing sincere appreciation. Thank the interviewer for his time. Follow up with a thank-you note. A friendly, comfortable exit makes a compelling last impression.
If you don’t like people and you aren’t a likable person, work on those characteristics before applying for a job in which people matter. Assuming you have interest in people and are a likable person, showcase these qualities in your interview. Managers are people. They want to hire good people to work with. Few people hire someone who rubs them the wrong way during the interview.
Neil Kokemuller is a college marketing instructor with a background in marketing and retail. He holds an MBA from Iowa State University.