How to answer interview questions to make hiring managers like you?

By the time you reach the interview phase, your prospective employer already knows a lot about you. They know your previous experience. What they don’t know is whether they want to work with you.

After you interview for a position, you may obsess over whether you gave the interviewer the “right” answers to the questions. But rather than worrying about what you said, you might want to spend more time thinking about how you say it.

By the time you reach the interview phase, your prospective employer already knows a lot about you. They know your previous experience. They might even have recommendations that attest to your knowledge, skills, abilities, and effectiveness. They know enough about you to think that you are a good match to the position they are filling.

What they don’t know is whether they want to work with you.

That means that a lot of what your interviewer is evaluating is whether they think you will fit into the organization and people will enjoy having you around. They are trying to envision what it will be like to have you as a part of the community.

There are several things you can do to make them think more favorably about you.

You want to leave an impression that you are going to be an interested, upbeat, and engaged person to work with. That means you want your interviewer to feel good about the interaction with you.

A great way to help that along is to take advantage of the natural coordination that happens when you talk with someone else. You automatically tune yourself to what a conversation partner is doing when you converse. You match how fast they are talking. You match the pitch of their voice. You mirror their gestures. You take on their level of energy.

At your interview, lean in. Literally. Lean forward. Talk with energy. Smile. Not only does this posture convey your interest to the interviewer, it will cause your interviewer to mirror your movements. That will increase your interviewer’s enthusiasm for you when the interview is over.

Lots of research suggests that fast thinking makes people feel good. That is why listening to fast music is a positive experience. It is why people often enjoy the last stages of solving a problem when the ideas are flowing. And it is why people enjoy a really good conversation.

At your interview, try to keep the conversation moving along. Prepare your responses to typical interview questions so that you have vocabulary at your disposal to talk about your qualifications, interests, and goals. That way, you can respond quickly to the questions you are asked. Those fast responses will make your interviewer feel positively about you.

The word you want on your interviewer’s mind at the end of the conversation is “yes.” And that means that you want to make it as easy for your interviewer to be thinking about good things rather than bad ones.

The best way to do that is to focus on positive elements throughout your interview. Find reasons why you can do things rather than not do them. If you interviewer asks you about problems you have encountered, find ways to turn those problems into benefits and focus on good outcomes and what you have learned.

Research on mood and memory suggests that it is easier for people to remember information that is consistent with their current mood. If you stay focused on the positive throughout your interview, you make it easy for your interviewer to think about the positive elements of your interview than the negative ones.

Obviously, throughout your interview, you also want to actually answer the specific questions you are asked. You certainly don’t want to be seen as someone who is not paying attention or won’t answer a question. But, to the extent that you can also convey how nice it would be to have you as a colleague, you will increase the chance that the next question you are asked is “When can you start?”

Art Markman, PhD is a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and Founding Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations. Art is the author of Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership, Smart Change, and most recently, Brain Briefs, co-authored with his “Two Guys on Your Head” co-host Bob Duke, which focuses on how you can use the science of motivation to change your behavior at work and at home.

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