#1 Trying Too Hard to be Similar
Research has found that people not only like people similar to them but that they will project their positive traits onto those they are perceiving. It’s a two step process. First, interviewers assess whether or not you are similar to them. Once that is established, they project their positive personality traits onto you.
A big mistake interviewees make is thinking they have to continually emphasize how they are similar to their interviewer(s). Don’t waste your time. Once you have established how you are alike, the interviewer will do the rest.
#2 It's Not About Biography
Another mistake is thinking that similarities means biography. You both went to the same middle school? No one cares. If, however, you share a personality trait like working so hard you don’t sleep enough, that can carry you a long way. Try to establish those similarities early in the interview.
How? If you know who will be interviewing you before you go in, research that person online, ask people who know them what they are like. If you don’t know in advance, make a quick assessment during the interview. Is the person quiet and reserved? Mimic that without being timid. Is the person loud and assertive? Behave the same way.
#3 Not Recognizing What Extroverts Like
You can always tell when you’re dealing with an interviewer who’s an extrovert. They smile a lot, always look you straight in the eye and are generally more chatty and gregarious. While that may put you at ease: beware! How you frame stories to extroverts can significantly influence their opinion of you.
Consider this question: “Tell me about an interaction you had with a customer needing assistance at your last job.”
Now consider these two response openings:
A: My first interaction with a customer took place at Handy Hardware Store on my very first day on the job. I went to see my supervisor, who said, “Welcome aboard, Pat! I hope your new employee orientation went well. I know this is your first day, so go roam the aisles and get a feel for the place and the products the store carries.”
B: My first interaction with a customer took place at Handy Hardware Store on my very first day on the job. I went to see my supervisor, who said, “Welcome aboard, Pat! I hope your new employee orientation went well. I know this is your first day, so go roam the aisles, making sure you greet and offer assistance to any customer you meet.”
While they seem similar, they set up the candidate’s interaction with customers in different ways. Response A implies that you interacted with the customer because you took the initiative. Response B says you interacted with the customer because you were specifically told to do so. Extroverts will think you’re helpful and obedient only if you give a response like A. They believe that interacting with a customer is natural and that if you are told to go roam the aisles, that means you were also told to interact with customers.
#4 Being Disagreeable
You may think one way to stand out in an interview is to challenge the interviewer, to show him that you think independently and have original ideas. Wrong.
Most jobs require the ability to interact easily with other people. This is especially true of sales. Psychologists have found that a person’s level of getting-along and agreeableness is generally associated for most people with interpersonal interaction skills.
Once you have the job, you can have your own ideas. The interview is not the time to be an iconoclast.
#5 Not Focusing on the Quiet Ones
People project their positive traits onto you once you establish your similarity. Agreeable and socially savvy interviewers, once they feel that you have similar traits, will project positive views of your helpfulness and obedience onto you. The quieter, more awkward, more disagreeable interviewers will not. A mistake people often make in an interview is to gravitate towards the more friendly interviewer and focus on him. Don’t. Focus on the quiet one. They’re your challenge.
Another mistake many make is in trying to make these negative people like you. Don’t bother. Instead, try to convey to them those two key qualities, helpful and obedient, by highlighting past experience