In almost every aspect of life, the term likeability is at the center of decision making. This idea holds true in political campaigns, speed dating, beauty contests, American Idol, selection of church pastors, straw polls, hand in marriages, choosing favorite foods, a new puppy from the pet store, best friends, new gadgets, and guess what? The workplace is no exception.
HR professionals or interviewers are humans, and the human element will always come into play when choosing. What does this mean? It means that if given the opportunity to hire someone, humans will, in addition to a candidates qualifications, will hire a candidate based on the likeability factor. So, if you are equally qualified with your competitor, and he or she has found favor with the interviewer, you can pretty much kiss that job goodbye.
Now, how can one become more likeable to increase ones chances of landing that new job? I have compiled a list of 5 actionable tasks that I believe will help you and set you apart from your competitors. These tasks are essential and give you the edge that you have been looking for in your job search.
Smile – One of the most amazing gifts given to humans is the smile. Too often, however, job seekers walk into the interview room nervous, anxious and so stressed out that they actually forget to smile. Not doing so can be a missed opportunity to break the ice and present oneself as a likeable and approachable person. Can you imagine a person’s resume saying things like, “I’m personable” or “I’m a people person” or here is one—“I am outgoing.” However, during the interview that person never cracks a smile. It is like saying, “I am happy to see you,” but with a disgusted look on your face.
Sure, I know that look on your face is probably because you have to use the restroom, due to either you not having a chance to go since you were so bent on showing up 20 minutes early, or because you are so nervous that it’s making your stomach turn, but to the person conducting the interview, you are coming off as perplexing and you are actually hurting your chances for this job. Make a mental note to self–A smile is the least that you can do to help your chances, not only for this job, but in anything in life–well, except smiling at a wild, vicious dog who is showing you its teeth. Now, that definitely wouldn’t be the time to smile.
Common Ground – Over the course of my life, I’ve often heard people say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” When I think deeply about this commonly used phrase, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that it’s not really all about who you know, because you can know a person and they not know you, or they could know you and not care enough to assist you. So, what I have come to understand is this– it is more about who likes you, as opposed to what you know and who you know, which is why it is so important to establish common ground with the interviewers. Be cognizant of your surroundings.
If you pay close attention to details, I’m sure that you can find things that you both have in common. For instance, did you notice the photo of the interviewer’s daughter? Don’t you have a daughter too? Well, you do now, or at least your sister does and you love her to pieces. Children make for great common ground conversations. You can ask questions like, “How old is she now? Aww, that’s great, such a wonderful age. I know that you must be very proud of her. Be sure to have your rifle ready, because you are going to need it to keep the boys away.” Now, please remember to be realistic as well. For example if the child is not so cute, then say, “I’ll bet she is smart as a whip. Kids these days are so advanced.” This provides an opportunity for the interviewer to let down their guard and become more personable with you. It also allows the interview process to become less formal and more like a casual conversation, as opposed to a Q and A session. Gentlemen, here is a perfect example of what not to say to a female interviewer, “So, when is your due date?” Well, guess what? She is not even pregnant, and you may as well start looking for another job.
Flattery – Nothing helps a person to like you more than flattery, but skillful flattery is the best. Everyone has something that they hold dear to them. Pay close attention. Did you notice the interviewer’s fragrance, haircut, tie, scarf, charm, ring, watch, earrings or shoes? Be sure to compliment them on their taste or choice. For you men, here is an example, “Wow that is a nice haircut, where do you go to get your haircut. I’m looking for a good barber.” Whether you decide to visit his barber or not, you just made him proud of his haircut. He will be sure to give his barber a good tip the next time and might slip your resume to the top of the stack. Ladies, don’t try this with another woman. Women seldom want other women looking as good as they do. So try this one, “Girl, I love your hair. You better hang on to your hair stylist, because stylists that good are hard to come by.” With flattery, always think before you speak, because if this is done wrong, you may have just cost yourself a job.
Be Courteous– Even in 2015, chivalry is not dead. Gentlemen, if you are being escorted from one room to the next, be sure to open any and all doors for the ladies. This simple act will not go unnoticed, I promise you. Ladies, if the interviewer is a male and he opens your doors, be sure to say “That is very kind of you”. Immediately, you will be distinguished from every other woman that didn’t say those words— at least in the interviewer’s eyes. Job seekers, whenever necessary, always give a sincere thank you. Those two simple words are like honey and could be the very thing that seals the deal for you.
Be Genuine– There is one thing that everyone from around the world dislikes—a fake. Have you ever heard the phrase, “He is fake as an $8 bill,” or “Just fake it until you make it?” Let me be the first to tell you, do not go into the interview looking to fake it until you make it. Real people can spot a phony a mile away. It is always best to be as genuine and sincere as possible. A genuine person is a rare commodity and people love to be around real, genuine souls. If the interviewer ask you a question, and you don’t know the correct answer, please don’t try and act like you do. This will turn them off. A better approach would be to simply say, “Honestly I am not familiar with that topic, but I would like to know how that works.” I always say that a comprehensive opinion does not mean that one has in-depth or factual knowledge of the subject matter at hand, for we all possess an opinion, but we do not all possess the facts. When one weighs facts and opinions on the scales of life, the facts tip the scales.