Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happily Interviewed

You got the qualification, you got the right experience and you are confident about flooring the interviewer. As you look into the mirror and set the tie right by a micro- millimeter (so meticulous!), allow asking yourself if you are going to make the interviewer happy and if your ingratiation skills are honed. I know they don’t have a class for that at college.

Every candidate knows that he has to convince the decision-maker (the interviewer) that he or she is the best candidate for the position. They carry the impression that the recruiter will base his decision on the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience of the candidate. That’s also what the recruiters will tell everyone. However studies have shown that interviewers are unconsciously influenced by the pleasantness and social skills of an applicant.

Ingratiation is a strategic attempt to get someone to like you. The major tactics for ingratiation are (1) other-enhancement, (2) opinion conformity, (3) rendering favours and (4) self-presentation.

1. Other-enhancement means flattery. A person attempts to praise the qualities/achievements of the other person. Flattery is effective (more so at a sub-conscious level) and even you are inclined to be influenced by it.

2. Opinion conformity is conforming to the opinions of the target person. An individual expresses values, beliefs, or opinions that are known to be held (or can reasonably be assumed to be held) by the target person. It is believed that people like those with apparently similar values.

3. Rendering favors. A person tries to ingratiate himself or herself to the decision-maker by rendering favors over and above the call of duty.

4. Self-presentation is to present one's own attributes or to behave in a manner that the other would approve and like.

Following are some ingratiation items used by applicants:

1. I praised the organization.
2. I complimented the interviewer or organization.
3. I discussed non-job-related topics about which the recruiter and I share similar opinions.
4. I discussed interests I shared in common with the recruiter.
5. I found out what kind of person the organization was seeking and explained how I fit in.
6. I indicated my interest in the position and the company.
7. I indicated my enthusiasm for working for this organization.
8. I smiled a lot or used other friendly non-verbal behaviors.
9. I maintained eye contact with the interviewer.

Sounds easy to comprehend? There is a catch. Under the circumstances, the motive for ingratiation is quite obvious and the other person may see through the act. The skill is that one should be able to ingratiate without being obvious about it. The art is to do it and yet not be apparent about it. For example, conformity with the other’s opinion can be preceded by sufficient resistance.

Of course, there should be some fit between the qualifications and what the recruiter is looking for. If you have an advanced diploma in belly dancing and were even voted the most popular senior at college, you probably wouldn’t be selected at Google for the post of chief technology officer.


Higgins CA, Judge TA. The effect of applicant influence tactics on recruiter perceptions of fit and hiring recommendations: a field study. J Appl Psychol. 2004;89:622-32. [PDF]


VSB said...

Sometimes the interviewer(s) is herself or himself quite a paradox unto themselves and it leaves you quite puzzeled as to the nature of the manpower and skills they are looking for. Mirror images are good for the ego but then they do not ensure the progress of the organisation by the way of new thought process and approach to work.

VS said...

I agree, but for me it is more fascinating to understand how a man's thoughts (its difficult to understand a woman's thoughts they say)work and if those can be influenced, to achieve what you want without raising any doubts.

elisa freschi said...

I have a lateral point: I would not recommend pleasing too much your interviewer (even if you can do it without being obvious) because then YOU might feel like you deserve something back from her (and feel bad if you don't get it). Similarly, you might yourself fail to understand whether you really want the job.
Whenever I have to hire people (it happens rarely, and they are always not going to be paid, so I guess it is not a standard case…) I rather try to figure out whether they will really enjoy what they might be going to do. It is not just me who have to learn about them, I guess they have to learn something through the interview, too.

VS said...

I agree Elisa. It has also been shown that immediate supervisors are more keen to see the correlation between the prospective employee and the work. However, there are many people who would like to believe that they need to speak less and their records would get them through.