The three most important assets during an interview is your ability to project likeability, trust and fit. Likeability, trust and fit trump everything…your knowledge of pedagogy, your qualifications, everything. Unconsciously, interviewers often decide at first sight whether 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 some of their questions.
So, what can you do to get them to like you? Ask yourself, “What is it that makes me like someone when I first meet them?” If you’re like me, I like people who are friendly, relaxed, humble, pleasant, sincere, and respectful. We probably also like people who enjoy and exhibit good humor. Researchers indicate that being likeable bears little relationship to appearing attractive, intelligent or assertive. 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 whomever 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!
- Control your emotions. If you feel interviewers are confrontational, disrespectful or disapproving, never show any signs of annoyance or anger. Keep your cool and push through it.
- Express an air of self-confidence; but never come across as cocky.
How do you project your trustworthiness to a group of strangers? It has to do with providing an authentic narrative that demonstrates your actions and experiences that paints a picture of being responsible and accountable, reliable and consistent, truthful, honorable, and transparent. Assuming you are asked the question, “How would your colleagues describe you?”
I suggest you should respond as follows: “One thing I think they would say was that I’m a straight shooter. That means that I say what I mean. They would also say that I hold myself accountable before I blame someone else for a mistake. Union representative would say that I’m always fair…I never knowingly violate a contract…and that I make decisions based on the facts after doing a thorough investigation.”
A Good Fit
How do you demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the school-community? First, you must research the demographics, the socioeconomic status, and what the community appears to value. Check out their website. Look at the photos; read the local newspapers (you can usually find on-line newspapers); visit the community; determine the kinds of activities they celebrate, music, the arts, athletics. In responding to their questions, try to resonate with their values and interests by matching your background and values to theirs.
Before walking into the room for your interview, your mantra should be: “Be likeable and trustworthy, and show them you’re a good fit!”