How to Be More Likable in a Job Interview

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Oct 24, 2018

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What do a job interview and a first date have in common? Both are slightly terrifying experiences where we try to present our best selves for the judgment and evaluation of a complete stranger. And according to new research published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology, the best way to make a good impression, and be likable, in both a job interview and a first date is not to brag. More specifically, people make a good impression when they talk about the effort and hard work behind their successes, instead of only talking about their achievements and talent.

In the paper, titled Impression (Mis) Management When Communicating Success, Dr Janina Steinmetz investigated how successful people were on dates and job interviews not only from their own perspectives, but also from the perspective of their ‘audience.’

Dr Steinmetz conducted the experiments with participants from the US and the Netherlands, who ranged in age from 18 to 75, and represented a gender balance. She had them role play to emulate either a date or job interview, and in all three experiments she conducted, those in the roles of listeners reported hearing too much about talent or achievements, and not enough about what went behind them.

Contrary to popular belief, a narrative framed around success did not make the best possible first impression. The struggle behind the success narrative is actually what made people more likable and relatable.

“A success story isn’t complete without the hard work and explanation of why we were successful. Did the success come easy, thanks to one’s talents, or was it attained through hard work? Both of these attributions can be part of successful self-promotion, but my research shows that emphasising effort is more likely to garner a positive impression and people really want to know the story behind your success.

This is all well, but in a results-driven world, the obvious next question would be: does being likable and relatable necessarily mean you’re more likely to get the job?

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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