"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
In many ways, each job interview you go on is like one of those chocolates. Despite doing your research, practicing answers to common interview questions, and dressing to impress, you can never really know what an interviewer's personality is going to be like until you "bite into" the interview.
What should you do if they're brusque or rushed? If they seem nervous or introverted? If they immediately act like they're you're best friend?
It's simple: mirror what your interviewer projects.
People naturally trust individuals who are similar to themselves. It makes them feel more comfortable and paves the way for better communication. So if you want to create a great first impression, begin by sizing up your interviewer:
If they're "all business":
Does the interviewer skip the small talk and begin hammering you with tough questions? Do they like to communicate with facts, data and specific language? Demonstrate your respect for their time by keeping your answers short and to the point. Highlight statistics or measurable achievements from your work history, which will likely resonate with this type of interviewer. Keep personal information to yourself, unless they specifically ask.
If they seem nervous or inexperienced:
Do they flinch when you give them a hearty handshake? Avoid eye contact? Be careful not to overpower the conversation by being too loud or animated. Take frequent breaks from direct eye contact, so your interviewer doesn't feel like they're being glared at. Finally, instead of mirroring their nervous energy, try to dissipate it. Take an occasional cleansing breath before you answer questions; the act will ease tension for you both.
If they act as if they've known you forever:
Congratulations – it's your lucky day! This type of interviewer is typically the easiest to connect with. Mirror their friendliness: return the warm smile; copy their energy level; and thank them early in the interview for making you feel so at ease (they'll appreciate the compliment).
No matter what type of interviewer you encounter (there are many more besides those listed above), keep these three mirroring pointers in mind:
- Be subtle.
Mirroring is not mimicking! Use the technique sparingly so that your interviewer doesn't feel as though you're copying them.
- Be positive.
If your interviewer uses poor language or scratches themselves inappropriately, you definitely do NOT want to mirror those behaviors. Reserve the tool for positive language and actions only.
- Be focused.
Don't let the process of mirroring distract you from what you're really there for: learning about the company and the role, and explaining why you're the ideal candidate for the opportunity.
Related Post: How Do Your Nonverbal Cues Come Across in an Interview?
Want the inside track on a hiring manager's personality or interview style?
Register with PrideStaff. Before you interview with one of our clients, your recruiter can share valuable information about the employer's culture, as well as the interviewer's temperament – so you can adapt your approach and make a great impression.