What really matters in job interviews? And no, it’s not the size of your resume..

Relocating means change, and for any accompanying partners who want to find independent employment, that means crafting a resume, applying for jobs, and if we get really lucky, landing an interview. We may have the qualifications, the experience and great references, but once we get into the interview room, what really gets us the job?

Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot outlines three characteristics of success in job interviews, and they may come as a surprise.

Be pleasant and likeable. Candidates who had gone out of their way to engage with the interviewers were more likely to be offered the role, regardless of qualifications or experience. Behaviors that positively influenced ‘likeability’ included being positive and enthusiastic about a feature of the company, smiling and maintaining friendly eye contact and showing interest in topics not necessarily related to the job, but of interest to the interviewing panel.

Be forthcoming about your weaknesses, but save your best for last. Wiseman notes that faults, mistakes or weak areas have less negative effect when raised early in the interview, and can actually be seen as evidence of honesty and self awareness. Strengths, accolades and achievements have the opposite effect, however. The later they appear in the conversation, the more positively they are viewed by interviewers; the same achievement mentioned early is seen is bragging, whereas later signifies modesty.

Don’t overestimate your own importance. Interviews are stressful situations, and mistakes are both usual and forgivable. In fact, studies show that most people overestimate both how many people notice and the magnitude of their errors. Your reaction does have an impact, however, so becoming increasingly embarrassed and awkward can have a far more negative effect than the actual blunder itself.

Other tips Wiseman suggests to persuade interviewers that you are the candidate for the job include:

Keep it Simple. When writing your resume, avoid using complicated names, titles or embellishments. Studies have shown that people are drawn to words that they can easily pronounce, and will avoid using words that they struggle with. Which is absolutely no use if that words refers to your greatest career triumph.

Make it Easy Reading. While we’re on the subject, Wiseman points out that the more complex you make your description, the less intelligent you are perceived to be. Clarity is seen as a trait of intelligence, so squelch your desire to grab the thesaurus, and use plain language instead. And a plain font, because one that is hard to read has the same negative effect on the reader.

Play Piggy in the Middle. Studies he reviewed identified a ‘center stage effect’ where people towards the middle of the group were perceived as more important, and were more likely to be chosen, or conversely less likely to be eliminated, than those on the outer edges. So in group interview situations, be aware that where you take a seat can have a far greater impact on your chances of success than you ever imagined.

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