Job interviews are like a complex theatrical performance, aren’t they? A candidate’s best bet is to put on a show, well-coordinated in all the details, and pull all the stops for making a good first impression. Everything matters, from the clothes and fragrance you wear, to the answers you provide to the interviewer’s questions. While the above is partly true, it also ignores an important aspect to acing the interview: the contents of the interviewer’s mind. Since you can’t read minds, there’s no sure fire way to know what they’re looking for, but there are plenty of strategies for empathizing with them. Empathy is an essential asset if you want to know how to relate with your job interviewer – and if you want to move from candidate to employee, this should be your goal. Here are three strategies for getting inside the mind of the person sitting across from you in that conference room.
Learn more about the company
Asking, rather than answering questions is a pivotal element of any successful job interview. In the preliminary stages, it goes to show that you are actively interested in the position potentially offered to you. By asking pointed, specific questions, you are demonstrating genuine curiosity for the job, as well as for the organization and department offering it. Inquire about the company’s general philosophy, but don’t hesitate to go into specific aspects of working there. Once you have been offered a position, it’s usually a good idea to ask to speak to people who would be your colleagues. They are your best bet at figuring out if this job really is the one you’re looking for, or if there are any particular aspects of it that you would want to avoid.
Understand para-verbal sign-posting
Some interviewing techniques advise the candidate to look for body language signals, in order to gauge the interviewer’s attitude and mind-frame. While this view is valid, there is a right and a wrong way of putting it into practice. Unlike verbal communication, the non-verbal forms meaning not through singular occurrences, but through clusters of significance. In other words, a brief instant of glancing sideways doesn’t necessarily mean your interviewer is losing interest. However, if coupled with other signs that point to the same direction (prolonged avoidance of eye-contact, crossed arms, etc.), the initial sign-posting you may have picked up on is confirmed. At the same time, look for telling signs in the way the interviewer handles their legs and feet during the job interview. While they may have rehearsed their arm, hand, and facial gestures, everything that goes on with the lower half of the body is likely to have been less rehearsed and consequently more honest.
Chat to find out how to relate with your job interviewer
It’s also a good idea to use interview downtime to make small talk and get a better feel on how to relate with your job interviewer by meeting them on common ground. At the same time, engaging in chit-chat achieves two important goals for you as a candidate: first off, it increases your odds at forming a likeability capital with the interviewer. By making small talk, you are relieving some of the stress from the situation – and, believe it or not, your interviewer might also be experiencing some pressure during the interview. Secondly, small talk helps you probe around for more information on the company and the job itself. It’s a good opportunity to follow up on (or set the ground for) question you may ask during the interview, regarding the organization. Last but not least, it allows you to get a feel for the interviewer’s true intentions, as people tend to be more honest when they’re more relaxed.
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