“Preparation is key.”
This is the message that I have been giving my clients for the last 10 years when it comes to interview coaching. And it is true. Most savvy interviewers will be able to tell within the first couple of minutes just how much preparation a candidate has done which, in turn, translates to a reflection on how much they care about the job they are interviewing for. And yet, it is not the whole story. In order to really shine at interview you need to be aware of the importance of the ‘likeability factor’ and the role that it plays in hiring decisions.
Think back to the jobs you have done and that you have really enjoyed. What was it that you really enjoyed about them? Was it just about the content of the work you were involved in or was some of it also to do with the people that you worked with? Similarly, when you’ve been having a hard time at work was it always because the job itself had become stressful or no longer enjoyable? Or was that stress also caused by the actions of one (or some) of your colleagues? The truth is, the people that we work with have a huge impact on our job enjoyment and, therefore, a significant impact on how long we stay at a company and how well we achieve within it.
No one wants to work with moaners, cynics, troublemakers or those who exude either negativity or excessive arrogance. Most interviewers are likely to recruit people that they like - fact. You can rehearse your answers until you are blue in the face but if you fail to build an effective rapport with your interviewer, then your chances of interview success are always going to be slim or, at least, slimmer. Even the most structured and ‘fair’ interview process will be positively influenced (albeit, perhaps, subconsciously) by a candidate who comes across as a pleasant person to be around. In other interview situations, the impact of likeability in the decision-making process will be a directly conscious one (I, myself, have been involved in more than one interview where candidates who shine on paper have been rejected simply for being “annoying”).
So while you are busy preparing your answers to “why do you want this job?” and “what do you know about the company?” think also about the basics of likeability - smile, show warmth of character, be enthusiastic (but not annoyingly so!), show a genuine interest in the company and what the interviewer is saying, and try to relax a little. Basically, be someone that other people want to have in the workplace.