August 8, 2013
The crucial question you won't get asked at job interviews
What is the one question a hiring manager will never ask, but that is crucial in whether or not you'll get the job? (Hint: It's a question the manager is asking himself or herself.)
Give up? OK, here it is: "Is this applicant a good fit for my workplace?"
Basically, employers need to know if you're the kind of person they, and their team, will want to spend all day with. In a word, it comes down to "likeability."
Of course, we know that you are likeable. But does the interviewer know? Fortunately, there's one pretty easy way you can make sure. You may even already be doing it without realizing it.
"It" is matching the communication style of your interviewer. You do this simply by allowing the interviewer to set the tone. For example, if he or she is crisp and all business, put on your (metaphorical) professional hat and behave likewise.
If the mood is light and relaxed, you should unbend a bit (within reason -- never be more casual than the interviewer). If the interviewer offers a personal anecdote, consider sharing (briefly) one of your own.
Note: This does not mean that you should bury your own personality or try to be someone you're not. All you are doing is matching a tone, a mood, a style.
You may be wondering: What about my skills, qualifications and experience? Aren't those important? Yes, they are. But to an employer, your skills don't mean a thing if you can't work well with the team.
You may have heard about "mirroring." This happens unconsciously in human interaction of all kinds -- your friend crosses his legs, so you cross your legs, etc. As social animals, we tend to instinctively mirror the behavior, tone, volume, gestures and even posture of the people we're talking with.
Mirroring can build rapport, trust and good will. However, unless you are a gifted actor, you won't be able to consciously mirror body language in an interview. Therefore, you do not want to be thinking, "Oh, he's leaning back, so I should lean back." It could get weird fast. Act naturally!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at email@example.com.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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