If you don’t know me by now, you may never never never know me…

The standard method of selecting candidates for jobs is to make list of key competencies required in the job and then to match these to the candidate’s application. However two US researchers (Higgins & Judge) followed 100 university students trying to get their first job. They analysed their CVs for qualifications and work experience and talked to the interviewers afterwards. Surprisingly the main factor in deciding which ones were selected was whether or not the candidate appeared to be a pleasant individual.

The successful candidates had:

  • Smiled and made a lot of eye contact
  • Showed a genuine interest in the interviewer and gave genuine compliments
  • Praised the company: find something you genuinely like about the organisation.
  • Asked interesting questions: for example “What is your personal experience of working for this company?”
  • Talked about subjects unrelated to job, but that interested the candidate and interviewer.

Should you mention a weakness at the start or end of an interview?

If you have a potential difficulty should you disclose this at the start or the end of the interview? According to research by Jones and Gordon of Duke University, candidates appeared more likeable if weaknesses were disclosed early in the interview and strengths towards the end. Candidates who disclosed potential problems early on were thought by interviewers to have more integrity and strength of character and thus were not not attempting to mislead them. Candidates who mentioned strengths (such as having been awarded a scholarship) later in the interview appeared more modest than those who blurted it out at the first opportunity, thus seeming boastful.

For more details on both the above pieces of research see the excellent “59 Seconds” by Prof. Richard Wiseman

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