In Interview in a Snap, I discussed research that found that hiring decisions are made within the first 30 seconds of an interview…perhaps as short as just 2 seconds. The rest of the interview just served to justify the hiring manager’s initial impression.
Was that shocking to anyone else?
That led me to wonder, how can a candidate influence the first few seconds of an interview, and quickly become the favored candidate?
So I talked to a few experts in workplace non-verbal communications, who gave some fascinating comments about how to make an instant connection upon walking into a room, and passing the 2 second interview test with flying colors.
Mike Murray, Author of Forget the Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane stated that “Most hiring managers don’t understand how they hire, because we have no concept of our own bias. Humans have a fundamental attribution error … we often don’t understand what motivates us to an action.”
What Mike is describing, the rest of us call “Gut Feel” and it’s all established based on non-verbal communications. While we don’t always understand what motivates our “Gut Feel”, we usually follow it.
Based on research, you only get between 2-30 seconds to form those “Gut Feel” impressions with the interviewer. So how can a job seeker establish rapport with a hiring manager in the first 2-30 seconds?
It’s all about mastering non-verbal communications, which establishes trust, likability & rapport almost instantaneously.
So what can you do in the first 2 seconds to instantly non-verbally communicate that you’re the best person for the job?
Karen Rothstein, non-verbal communications coach with Transformation by Design, suggested “The biggest thing you can do within the first few seconds is to adopt a Physiology of Confidence”. Karen suggests the best way to exude confidence is through preparation. Karen advised “ Visualize a time when you were at the top of your game, and remember how that felt. Practice that feeling, and then visualize that time just before you go into the front door of your target company.” Feel confident, and you’ll be confident.
What can you do in the first 15 seconds to slay the interview?
Mike Murray has additional ideas. Mike suggested “Most hiring managers want to hire someone like themselves. The first thing you can do is to look like you already work at your target company. Dress like them. Do some research and ask other employees about the company. Look at the brochures, press releases and website. How do people dress? What are the employees like?”
Mike even recommended reconnaissance – by going to the lunch place closest to your target company and watch people who come in. Strike up a conversation if you can, or just watch, paying attention to how people talk and what they are wearing. The closest bar for happy hour may work also, or just stopping into the office at the reception area – just notice the first few employees that are in the lobby.
So after you’ve done your reconnaissance or pre-networking (think Linkedin and/or Facebook) to ask about the culture and office attire, you’re prepared to look like you’re already an employee. This goes a long way to establishing rapport, by blending in and causing the hiring manager to think “Wow, this person already looks like they work here”.
What can you do in the first 30 seconds to own the interview?
Mike then suggests “After you’ve established rapport, build upon it with mirroring. Keep your energy level comparable to the interviewer. Adopt similar posture, gestures, and tone. Even breathe at the same pace, by watching how their shoulders rise and fall, and copying their breathing pattern.”<
If you really want to ace the interview, do some research on the hiring manager, to find out what they are like. I’ll do a later article on that topic, as it’s more involved.
Finally, eye contact is critical. Keeping eye contact when you first approach an interviewer and shake hands gives non-verbal cues of confidence and trustworthiness. Keeping eye contact when you are being asked questions gives non-verbal cues of listening skills. And finally, keeping eye contact while answering reinforces the answer, builds rapport and reinforces trust.
But also evaluate the company’s Non-Verbal Communications to see if you want to work for the company or hiring manager. How the company communicates to you non-verbally will help you make a good choice of companies and opportunities.
Keep in mind that your goal is to:
- Find a problem that you are uniquely qualified to solve
- Make sure that you WANT to solve problems for this employer
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