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Do well in a job interview by not selling yourself

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Most people go to a job interview prepared to sell themselves. But they can do better by spending more effort directing their energy towards the needs of the Interviewers. Here are some concrete ideas:

Practice gratitude

The theory of emotional contagion predicts that good moods really do spread. So going into your job interview in an upbeat state of mind increases the chances that your prospective employer will respond to you enthusiastically.

There is an easy way to do this. People who keep track of things that they were grateful for tended to be more positive than people who were naturally or negatively focused. So before your interview, list of 5 or 10 things you’re grateful for or write a thank-you note to someone. This will put you in a better state of mind and that will show in the interview.

Reduce your stress

A 2015 study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that adults who performed minor kindnesses such as holding open a door or helping a stranger carry a stroller down a flight of stairs experienced lower levels of stress. Helping others also reminds us that in the grand scheme of things, the interview is not so important – that too takes the pressure off.

Wear a distinctive accessory

Wearing a distinctive accessory to the interview will set you apart from the other applicants. This could be anything from a colourful scarf or pocket handkerchief to an unusual pair of eyeglasses. This enhances your “personal brand” making it more likely that your interviewer will remember you later.

Always take the water

People tend to form first impressions quickly, drawing on a variety of factors; some, such as our faces and voices, are beyond a job applicant’s control. So it’s important to do what you can to make a good impression, no matter how small.

One simple way is to accept your interviewer’s offer of coffee or water. This is the same thing as Practicing Gratitude explained above but in this case you are making the interviewer feel hospitable and therefore putting them in a good mood. The second reason for accepting the water is that it gives you a prop: you can gather your thoughts during the interview while taking a long sip.

Generate some enthusiasm

Chances that are your first exchange with your interviewer will the question “how are you?” Rather than response with the usual “good” or even “great” say “fantastic”.

Why – everyone wants to be around someone who’s fantastic and no one wants to be around someone who just says ‘I’m okay” or “I’m tired”. In any case your answer will get your interviewer’s attention.

It’s not about you

Your goal in the interview should be to identify your interviewers’ vision for the role and what you can do for the company help it accomplish its goals, Kerpen says. To put this another way, people think they’re going to job interviews to talk about themselves, but if you can get the interviewer talking about their own vision, they are going to like you.

Mirroring

Mirroring is a psychological phenomenon in which people mimic speech patterns, gestures and nonverbal behaviours of others. Research has shown that people who use mirroring effectively tend to be seen in a positive light.

The key is to do this naturally. For example, you might try picking up a phrase that the interviewer uses and repeating it in your question. This can demonstrate that you’re listening closely so the other person feels like they’re being heard. This is particularly important in a job interview, for managers are looking for prospective employees who pay attention to and remember what they say.

Be transparent about your failures

Most employers want people who are self reflective enough to recognise their mistakes and learn from them. We all make mistakes; the real problem is making a mistake and not learning from it or covering it up. This transparency tends to be rewarded and helps us connect with others.

Offer genuine praise

Don’t underestimate the power of genuine praise at the end of an interview. Letting people know how much you appreciated their questions and their company makes them feel good. A further step on is to write a thank-you note right away. The easiest way to do this it to bring a blank card with you to the interview. When the interview is over you can note down your thanks in the lobby and leave the card with the receptionist. As this is handwritten it is also a way to differentiate yourself.

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