First impression crash course: 9 research-based tips for making the interviewer love you
That first impression is really, super duper important, because you might not be able to change it, even if it’s wrong.
This isn’t just dramatic rhetoric designed to scare you. According to a 2014 study at the University of Toronto, “First impressions are so powerful that they can override what we are told about people.” The study used sexual orientation as a test and found that “even when told whether a person was gay or straight, participants generally identified the person’s sexual orientation based on how they looked — even if it contradicted the facts presented to them.”
Read: We humans are stubborn. Once we make up our minds they can be difficult to change.
And when it comes to the job interview, you only get one chance anyway. If you make a bad impression, you’re not going to get the job. You have to make the interviewer fall in love with you (platonically, of course) right away.
How to do that? Employ these research-based tried and tips and tricks.
Don’t overpower: Don’t rely too much on the firm handshake and assertive greeting. Recent research suggests that we respond more positively to those who seem trustworthy rather than confident. That doesn’t mean you can get away with sweaty palms and a limp-fish shake. But don’t break anyone’s fingers.
Watch your tone: A recent study at Glasgow University measured responses to 64 people saying “hello” and found that men with deeper voices are deemed less trustworthy than those with higher voices, and women who uptalk at the end of the word are less trustworthy than those who don’t. Hear the examples here. Yes, I’m sick of people telling women how to talk too, but if you want the job, keep in mind that uptalk might be making you sound both dumb and dishonest.
Find a connection: Workopolis VP of HR, Tara Talbot, says that the one thing that will make a candidate stand out for her is if they “share a connection.” Find common ground with the interviewer – be it kids, pets, sports, love of numbers and data – and connect over it. Don’t force it, but if you can share a laugh, even better. Employers hire people they like and want to work with.
Ask for advice: Researchers found over a series of studies that asking for advice actually makes people think you’re smart. They wrote, “[W]hen you ask for advice, people…think you are smarter. They reason, ‘I’m brilliant (of course), so this guy’s smart for asking for my advice.’” It “strokes the adviser’s ego.” It’s as simple as asking the interviewer, “What advice would you give about succeeding in this role at this company?”
Ask an opinion: This comes from the former head of the FBI’s behavioural analysis program, Robin Dreeke, who says his number one trick for building rapport with anyone is to asK for their “thoughts and opinions without judging them.” Even better than not judging, probably, is to show respect for their opinion. Ask the interviewer their thoughts about an industry trend or news item. Don’t make it too difficult to answer. You don’t want them to have to work too hard.
Wear lavender: While you probably don’t want to wear a noticeable scent to the job interview, this information is interesting and worth noting: research suggests that the scent of lavender increases trusting behaviours. You might consider just the tiniest hint of lavender scent.
Smile: Onto the more obvious. A smile makes you more likeable and research has shown that smiling faces are deemed more “trustworthy.” Don’t oversmile though, which is a common mistake in interviews. You’re eager to be likeable but you wind up coming across a little bit unhinged.
Make eye contact: Another obvious one. People have been led to believe that not making eye contact is a sign of deception. It’s not. But this has been repeated so often that it’s now taken as fact. So, look your interviewer sporadically in the eye to gain their trust. Don’t stare. Too much eye contact is another big mistake.
Watch your body language: Don’t fidget, cross your arms, or slouch. Slouching suggests a lack of interest. Look lively, sit up straight. Don’t lean so far forward you look like you’re going to pounce and don’t nod your head too much. Be relaxed and confident. When we’re nervous or distracted, we might forget our body language. Don’t. It can make or break your chances.