How to be more 'likeable' during an interview

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You have made it this far, you crafted the perfect CV and got past the HR screening, now comes the hard part. To some, coming across as 'likeable' just comes naturally. To others, for whatever reason (mostly nerves) this may come as a struggle.

The last thing you want is to get all dressed up in your freshly pressed tuxedo only to let yourself down by forgetting to do something as simple as smile. So, if this is something that you struggle with then not too worry; there are some simple tips you can use and habits you can develop that will allow you and your personality to shine through during an interview.

So, whenever you receive feedback along the lines of say 'we found someone who is a better culture fit' etc. This is generally because other candidates came across as more likeable and therefore better to work with.

While candidates with similar experience or education progress, you have not. This may well be a result of nerves, personality type or simply trying to remember your notes that you have vigorously prepared in the weeks leading up to the interview. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember to make a connection with your interviewer.

Here are some simple tips you can use and habits to develop that will allow you and your personality to shine through during an interview.

Do some research.

The interviewer is not only looking at your qualifications and experience; she's also trying to picture you as a future employee, possibly sharing a cubicle wall and discussing weekend plans.

If you know the name of your interviewer before the meeting, you can research them online and see if there are any commonalities.  Did you ever work in the same industry, city or in similar roles?  Did you attend the same university or have you both attained the same degree?  If there is a connection, being able to slip it into the conversation helps to create a sense of familiarity.

P.S. Don't be a stalker, while it is a good idea to do your homework. Keep it professional, don't dive into their personal lives. Be sensible.

Embrace the small talk

Similar to the above point, have some small talk topics prepared before you begin your interview. A quick search on your way there to gather information on news, weather or any pop culture. Again while this kind of stuff might come naturally to some, others will struggle. You may not be the only one who is nervous and the interviewer will remember how you made her feel at ease with some breezy weather talk before having to launch into more serious questioning.

Be conscious of your body language

Most professionals are not truly aware of the first impression they make.  Be sure to smile, nod and appear engaged in the conversation.  Often, deep thinkers and introverts can be more difficult to read at the first meeting.  A stoic nature with folded arms can come across as mean or unlikable.  As a candidate, you might feel as though you’re in the hot seat and be unaware of your body language.  Check-in with yourself regularly and notice your posture and expressions.

If you take one tip away from this article, take this one... Smile! The impact of a smile cannot be overstated. It triggers an emotional response in your interviewer, allowing them to remember you in a positive light.

Don't forget to listen.

While it is very important to sell yourself, it is equally as important to listen to the questions, answers and comments you receive. This will signal to the hiring manager that you won’t be high maintenance to work with. People want to be heard and like when others allow them to get their point across without judgment.

Listening enables job seekers to build rapport with the interviewer because the interaction is now more give and take, instead of giving canned answers.

Be positive

Remaining positive might sound obvious, but its tempting to speak negatively about failed projects or positions. Many hiring managers probe for challenges in past roles and could ask directly about your working experience at another company. 

Perhaps your last organization was toxic, always late with finishing projects and you hated your boss. Sometimes, while making an attempt at being honest may lead you into a negative conversation. Be aware when something like this happens and steer the conversation back into a positive vibe. Find a way to word the experience, so it doesn’t sound overly negative or like you are blaming others.

Remember you shouldn't have to fake being likeable. You're not forcing a toothy grin or trying to show the interviewer how similar the two of you are. You're simply showing you, authentically, at your best.

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