The Likability Factor
Your most important asset during an interview is likability. Likability can trump everything–your knowledge of pedagogy, your qualifications, everything. Unconsciously, interviewers often decide within the first few moments whether or not they like you. Still, over the course of the interview, interviewers can change their opinions in either direction. If they really like you, they may even overlook your less-than-satisfactory responses to their questions. So, what can you do to get them to like you?
Ask yourself, “What is it that makes me like someone whom I first meet?” If you’re like me, I like people who are friendly, relaxed, well groomed, modest, pleasant, sincere, and respectful. You probably also like people who enjoy good humor, and who seem to resonate with your values. Of course there are also unpredictable elements, such as a resemblance to a highly-respected friend or colleague. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the uncontrollable. But, here are a few things you can do:
- Dress appropriately and modestly—it’s just as important to not over-dress as it is not to under-dress. Limit jewelry to a small number of modest pieces. Hair styles should be modest. Going on an interview is not like going on a date.
- Shake hands with everyone, look each person in the eye, smile, and tell the interviewers your name. The warm firm human touch and the proximity of person to person contact are magical.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues. Sit up, lean forward, make eye contact with whoever is speaking, acknowledge your understanding by gently nodding and smiling, and acknowledge others’ nods and smiles by nodding and smiling in return. Do not cross your arms. Do not frown, shake your head from side-to-side, or grimace in disagreement or disapproval.
- Laugh appropriately. If someone says something funny, it’s okay to laugh, but don’t overdo it. It’s also good to say something funny within the context of the interaction; however, you’re not there to entertain. If you’re the only one who’s laughing and joking, then stop!
- Shake hands at the conclusion of the interview. Smile and thank each person.
Before walking into the room for your interview, your mantra should be: “Be likable, be likable!”