Interviewing is a lot like dating

Interviewing is a lot like dating. When two people agree to go to dinner or watch a movie, it’s generally because they have something in common, find each other interesting, and want to spend time together.

When interviewing job candidates, interviewers are looking for these same things. They want to hire a candidate who can do the job and connect with others in the workplace.

Therefore, it’s not enough for job seekers to highlight their skills, knowledge and experience. They must be able to create chemistry and connect with the interviewer, according to Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of Interview Magic, Second Edition (JIST (c) 2008).

“During an interview, you will be judged on three dimensions: Chemistry, Competency and Compensation. The first dimension — chemistry — is critical. You’ll want to connect with the company’s mission, its people and its customers. And you’ll certainly want the interviewer to connect with you,” Whitcomb says.

Given only a brief amount of time, many people find it very difficult to connect with interviewers. Further complicating the task is the fact that many people think of interviews as high-stress, pressure-packed situations. This attitude influences job seekers to spend their time worrying and trying not to make mistakes, instead of making an effort to connect with interviewers.

To help job seekers overcome this common obstacle and quickly create chemistry between themselves and interviewers, Whitcomb offers the following tips in her book, Interview Magic.

Share commonalities

Discuss your passion for your field or enthusiasm for a new product or service, as well as personal commonalities such as family (children of the same age), recreational activities, hobbies or interests.

L.I.S.T.E.N. attentively

Laser your focus; investigate and be curious; silence your tongue — hold your judgment and open your mind. Take brief notes and take time to formulate your response; elevate the other person; and note the nonverbal, including your body language and that of your interviewer. It is impossible to connect with others if you don’t listen well.

R.E.S.P.O.N.D. well

Remember your objective; engage the interviewer; share succinctly; point to benefits; offer proof; never drone on; and dedicate yourself to a win-win relationship.

Pay attention to the “howcha’s”

The howcha’s are how you say it (as opposed to what you say). Tone, inflection, body language, attitude and motive combine to make how you say it just as important as what you say. To improve your howcha’s, remain deferential, respectfully curious and concerned about the interviewer/ company’s welfare. Use verbal and body-language mirroring to enhance communication, matching aspects of your interviewer’s voice, language, mannerisms and body language.

Recognize their learning style

Offer variety in your interview so that each style is addressed, such as answering questions for the auditory learners, writing an outline on a whiteboard or showing a PowerPoint demonstration for the visual learners, and engaging the kinesthetic/tactile learners in activities or encouraging them to take more thorough notes.

Connect with interviewers by understanding their temperament

Theorists (often seen in executive roles) value impressive training or credentials, and stress visioning, logic, innovation, mastery, progress and excellence.

Catalysts (often seen in human service roles) value harmony in work relationships and ideal, meaningful work environments.

Stabilizers (often seen in finance and management roles) value factual, reality-based responses in a sequential, detailed fashion.

Improvisers (often seen in sales/marketing roles) value action, excitement and variety and prefer solutions that are practical and effective to help them get what they want.

Making these efforts throughout the interview will go a long way toward impressing the interviewer and positioning yourself ahead of candidates. Even if you don’t win the job offer, the interviewer may recommend you to others or keep you in mind for future opportunities if he or she developed a connection with you.

Whitcomb reminds, “Acing an interview — even for a job that isn’t perfect for you — will put you on the radar screen of those who can help you in the future. Remember that interviewers have their own network of contacts that will likely be valuable to you.”