Getting a job is and always will be an impression thing. Business is relationships, period. Beyond your track record, your resume, education or talents, what do you have that will get you the job? Personality. It is your actions, tone, demeanor and attentiveness that turn the the key to any and all future job positions you wish to court.
Imagine you are hiring for a cleaning position for you home. First, you ask your friends for a reliable recommendation. If that person is unavailable you are forced to interview people. You choose your price range and put out an add or call some agency’s. Now what criteria really makes the difference in your choice to hire one person over another? Often the unmentionables dictate your first cuts like; gender, age, race, cleanliness. Only the most charming of candidates would pass this initial, unconscious discrimination. Don’t let people fool you, every one judges. No one is an impartial computer.
When ever I get hired for a job, which is usually the first one I try for, I always make sure to ask “what made you choose me over the others?” It’s not a vanity thing, at least for me, It’s important information gathering session and I value it highly. I have had a variety of responses and from those I have been able to develop a good gauge of the unusual way people choose the people they want around them. I have had “honestly, I thought you were hot.” a less that desirable result but hey, at least it’s an honest response. I have also gotten “Well, you seemed interesting and I like interesting.” How about the just plain bazaar like “Actually, it was the way you showed concern for my birds empty water dish. I figure anyone who cares about animals enough usually tends to be a good person.”
None of these encounters was planned. I did genuinely care about the bird and I did choose interesting stories to tell about my life, however, these two responses would not have been appropriate in each others interview. It is about paying attention to your surroundings and being genuine. I like to imagine that I am already friends with this person and give them honesty and vibrancy, two traits I am very comfortable with in myself.
Sometimes I walk into a situation that seems uptight and uncomfortable. Usually these situations have many long silent pauses with a lot of paper shuffling. I do not let these perceptions linger for long. I may break the ice by appealing to the obvious. “Penny for your thoughts?” You may be surprised what calling attention to the other persons private thoughts does to the vibe in the room. Usually, if the situation is a bit tense and professional they look up and pause for quite some time as their attention is brought to the now. Maintain pleasant eye contact until you elicit some kind of answer. Usually, you will get something to go on. Remember, they are people just like you and they have nothing personal against you. How could they, there is nothing to judge with but what you give them. What if they are having a bad day? What if they normally don’t do the hiring and they are uncomfortable? How would this change your perception of the situation and how could this help you to steer the conversation into an area where you shine?
On an easier interview, it is relaxed but I need to stand out so I may look around the room and get an idea of who they are. If we seem to share an affinity for something I take notice and react as I would as if I had been invited into their home. I give genuine compliments and ask questions I am honestly curious about. Conversation tends to flow much more naturally when you find something in common. This is what people mean when they say “just be yourself.” Basically don’t try and be what you think the person wants because you probably, really, have no idea but you do have your personal experiences and opinions to share and connect with another person, so use that.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at onlinedegrees.org, researching areas of online universities. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.