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Interview Clout: Mirror Your Interviewer

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Sharon took it upon herself to lighten the moment by telling an innocent joke to her interviewer…who responded with a long, icy glare. She realized immediately that she’d likely destroyed any chance of a job offer with her fateful jest.

Lesson learned? Sharon neglected to read her interviewer.

It’s no stretch of the imagination that interviewers bring their own personality traits and perspectives into the interview process that influence their thinking and actions (and subsequent hiring decisions). Consequently, much of the success of your interview as a candidate depends on how astutely you tailor your words and actions to the interviewer’s style.

MIRROR THE INTERVIEWER

Studies have shown that special cells in our brains called mirror neurons activate when we witness other people's actions in the same way they do when we perform those same actions ourselves. In her book, Communication Skills for Dummies, Elizabeth Kuhnke establishes that by adopting similar gestures and movement patterns as another person, you can increase the rapport between yourself and that person.

Mirroring behavior can be a strong indicator of openness and honesty, and there’s a lot of evidence that this method of body language is most effective for the interview process. Thus, by taking your cue from the interviewer and reflecting similar body language and speech patterns, a more aligned communication pattern can be established. Following are common behaviors to observe and mirror during your next interview:

  • If the interviewer is outgoing and talkative, you should show energy and enthusiasm in your body language and verbal responses.
  • If the interviewer is reserved, you should likewise present a calm demeanor.
  • If the interviewer is no-nonsense and strictly business, your responses should be succinct and without flourished details.
  • If the interviewer is comfortably relaxed, you can demonstrate a more friendly demeanor.

By purposefully mirroring the interviewer’s verbal and body language style, you arm yourself with an interview tactic that will assuredly distinguish you from the candidate pack. The overriding consideration is to be yourself. You’re not encouraged to superficially imitate or mimic the actions of the interviewer. Nor is it suggested that you compromise your authentic self.

Utilized intelligently, mirroring the interviewer is a powerful communication strategy.

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