People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. In an interview, you’re likely just meeting your interviewers for the first time. Therefore, the best way to demonstrate influence in the Connection phase of the Four C’s of Influence (see the three previous parts here) is through two specific actions.
- Make yourself seem like an extension of your interviewer.
- Demonstrate you’re “in” with other people in their circle.
Let’s breakdown each part further.
- Making yourself seem like an extension of your interviewer is a phenomenon known as the “like me” principal. Our brains are always scanning the environment for potential threats and rewards, and a stranger is more likely to be interpreted as a threat. To combat this, research your interview team ahead of time. Identify elements of their background that you share such as a college you attended or a previous employer. At the onset of the interview, bring up the commonality in casual conversation. If you have nothing in common, express your excitement for being there, combined with gratitude for their time. Secondly, mirror their style. Mirroring will subconsciously influence a person towards considering you as an extension of themself. If you become a mirror to someone, they think you are like them. Because we like ourselves, we also like people who are like us. In an interview, pay close attention to your interviewer’s body language, tone of voice, and word choice. Aim to match their energetic level. Small changes in your behavior can influence how your interviewer perceives the favorability of your candidacy.
- Demonstrate you’re “in” with other people in their circle. Other influencers influence influencers. Mental gymnastics, I know! Essentially, someone in a position of power will more commonly listen to others who also have some element of authority. Needless to say, it matters who you know. Candidates get top-level positions because of their networks. You must start networking when you are junior in your career. Attend conferences and introduce yourself to speakers, or anyone you consider an influencer. Develop relationships with managers and leaders in your organization, and then keep up with these folks over the years, nurturing these relationships. During your interview preparation, however, scan LinkedIn to see who you know in common with your interviewer. In your initial meeting, mention this connection to share a genuine moment. If you don’t have a shared connection, your last option is to “wow” one of the other interviewers. After you’ve gone home for the day, you want someone advocating for your candidacy more strongly because you’ve impressed them so much.
“Connection” is an intangible component of influence, yet it carries a disproportionate amount of weight. People make emotional and intuitive decisions when hiring. Interviewing is often more of an art than a science, so above all else, ensure you’re leading with your genuine personality. Good luck!