It takes seven seconds for an interviewer to decide whether you’re the right person for the job or not. Making the right first impression from the moment an interviewer first meets you is clearly important. However, it may not be your only opportunity to make a “connection” and win someone over.
An interview, after all, is all about influence. How can you influence someone during the interview in such a way that it has a positive effect on their decision? Just to be clear, we’re not proposing a Machiavellian type of manipulation and influence, but a subtler way of using your skills to best position you with the interviewer, while remaining credible and authentic.
First things first, let’s break the interview down. The interviewer already believes you can do the job, they’ve reviewed your resume against the core competencies and experience they’re looking for and you match. Of course you’ll still need to do your homework and prepare for competency-based interview questions and research the organization, but the interview is much more focused on how you will “fit” with the culture of the organization and, more importantly perhaps, how you will “fit” with the interviewer – your future manager. This is where creating a connection comes into play.
So how do you create a connection with someone you’ve never met before? Years ago this would have been difficult to do, but thanks to social media it’s now a lot simpler. Researching your interviewer on LinkedIn before an interview may be common sense, but how many of us can truly say that we look beyond the initial profile to get a feel for the type of personality that we’ll be meeting, using this information to think about how we can best connect with them? This information is there, it just requires more than a cursory glance to find it.
Connecting with someone comes down to understanding the four basic personality types, developing your knowledge on what will work best to engage with them, and what to avoid. Numerous tools exist for analyzing personality types, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the following:
- Logical. Highly analytical, quantitative individuals, interested by data, facts and figures.
- Visionary. Holistic and intuitive individuals, big picture people skilled at bringing necessary resources on board to work towards a goal.
- Control. Organized, sequential individuals who are natural planners and very detailed.
- People. Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to read others, use emotions and movement to learn and portray concepts.
So, how would you know which personality type your interviewer is? The clue is in the writing of the LinkedIn profile. What language does the individual use to describe themselves? Is it in facts and figures (analytical), in painting pictures of events (visionary), through logical sequencing of events (control) or in stories and heavy emphasis on people aspects (people). This is a very top line overview, however it serves a purpose. For example, how would you make an instant connection with someone who is highly analytic? You need to speak their language, the language that makes up their core personality and sparks an interest. Peppering your responses with facts and figures that are relevant will help to do this. Likewise if your research tells you that your interviewer is a "visionary," then you need to think about how you will connect with them. This is unlikely to happen if you present them with reams of facts and figures, or talk in detail about processes. However, a word of caution, the need to be credible and authentic is important in taking this approach, as with any interview.
While it may be true that initial decisions on whether to hire someone or not are made within the first few seconds of meeting, the interview, if well prepared for, presents an opportunity for you to influence someone’s decision by making a connection with them that makes them sit back, reflect and think “yes, this person understands me and I could work with them”.