A Job Seeker’s Biggest Asset: Being Likeable

Undeniably, having solid and proven skills and abilities (e.g., technical, project management, problem-solving, communication. sales) are essential for landing a job.

However, there is a personality trait, a soft skill that can be learned, that is of far greater importance than your hard skills; being likeable. Being likeable is critical because the foremost question running through your interviewer’s mind throughout the interview: “Do I like this person?”

TRUISM: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.

Job seekers often overlook the importance of being likeable due to the widely given advice from Internet talking heads to “be yourself” and “people need to accept you for you.” However, nowhere is being likeable more relevant than during a job interview, where your likeability greatly influences what your interviewer thinks of you. Bottom-line, hiring managers — human beings — do not hire candidates they do not like. Would you hire someone whose personality you did not like or felt would not mesh well with the current team? 

Likeability is not an inherent quality. It is a skill that, like any skill, you can learn and develop. I do not mean just being “nice,” “charming,” or “friendly.” Likeability is correlated with certain behaviours. Therefore, by focusing on the right behaviours and applying yourself, with practice, you will get better (READ: more skilled at) at being liked by people. 

The following is how candidates make themselves more likeable to their interviewer: 

  • Likeable candidates greet their interviewer(s) by name. 

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.

An essential part of a person’s identity is their name. Use your interviewer(s)’s name regularly throughout the interview, not just when you are introduced. If you have trouble remembering names, then write them down.

  • Likeable candidates smile a lot and use an appropriate sense of humour. 

It is natural for people to mirror the body language of those they are speaking with. When you smile at your interviewer(s) throughout the interview, they will unconsciously return the favour and feel good. Who does not like someone who makes them feel good? 

  • Likeable candidates engage their interviewer(s) by asking questions. 

You will become more likeable if you ask questions about the company and position, indicating that you are interested in the job and want to ensure it is a good fit for you. Give your interviewer(s) your full attention, pay close attention to their answers, and ask follow-up questions for elaboration and clarification. Do not interrupt your interviewer while they are speaking. Doing so will kill your chances of being liked.

  • Likeable candidates make connections and find commonalities. 

Research shows, as I am sure your experience also shows, that people are attracted to people with similar backgrounds and interests. When your interviewer begins your interview with small talk, take advantage of this opportunity to find common ground. Look for anything: hometown, college, sports, dogs. Identify something about your interviewer that you can relate to; this will make small talk easier, and you will appear more likeable.

  • Likeable candidates do their research. 

It is easy for your interviewer to tell how much you know about the company and the industry and how well you understand the position. Your interviewer will not think highly of you if they see and feel you have not bothered to prepare for the interview or considered what you can offer the company.

  • Likeable candidates are reliable.

Reliability, which every hiring manager looks for, is easy to demonstrate — never arrive late for an interview! There are no excuses for doing so. No matter your reason for being late, you are unlikely to recover from it.

Lastly, body language profoundly influences first impressions; therefore, practice positive body language. Generally, people decide whether they like someone within seven seconds of first meeting them. Then they spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. First impressions are profoundly influenced by body language, which begins with having a good posture making you appear engaged, confident, and professional, all qualities hiring managers like.

When meeting your interviewer for the first time, remember the acronym SOLER:

S – Face your interviewer squarely and open your shoulders.

O – Open and positive body language. Do not cross your arms, smile, and speak enthusiastically.

L – Give the appearance of listening by leaning forward slightly.

E – Eye contact. Be sure to maintain eye contact.

R – Be relaxed and comfortable throughout the interview. 

The stakes are high in interviews, particularly if you are interviewing for a job you are hoping for; some anxiety is inevitable. You are less likely to be likeable if you are visibly anxious, especially if your anxiety makes you seem rigid. Arrive in plenty of time, be well prepared and take time to build a rapport with your interviewer. (Commonality creates likeability.

Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile job are to get you interviews. However, ultimately, the success of your interview will be largely determined by how likeable you are; therefore, it is a trait (READ: skill) worth honing. As I mentioned, hiring managers do not hire candidates they do not like.

_________________________________________________________ Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com

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