Career Development: Making Use of Psychology to Get Your Dream Job

Everyone pretty much knows how the hiring process works. You send out your résumé, you may get phone screened, and then you may get an interview offer, which may lead to a second interview, and then hopefully, it all ends in a job offer and a happier you.

There are ways to increase your chances of getting the job. Learn how to avoid common mistakes candidates make when writing their CVs, and to avoid common mistakes made during interviews.

Studies have shown that if you copy an action, such as if the interviewer crosses his legs and you do too, then he is more likely to like you more

No matter how perfect your résumé is, or how perfectly you can answer questions in your interview, you are still human. The hiring manager is human too, and humans are not perfect.

We’re all subject to bias and subconscious judging and decision making.

Understanding how a hiring manager thinks can help equip you with the skills to subconsciously get the hiring manager to 1) Like you more, and 2) Increase the chances of you getting the job.

Risk Aversion

In psychology, risk aversion is a “preference for a sure outcome over a gamble with higher or equal expected value.” This is an in-built human tendency. The majority of us are risk-averse as opposed to risk-seeking.

This means that you will have to present yourself in a way that makes you appear as the lowest risk candidate that the hiring manager can hire. This starts from your CV and even the phone screening.

You should provide both written and oral reasons to lessen the hiring manager’s risk aversion.

The best way to do this is, firstly, to tailor your CV to the job description that you are applying for. Showcase the skills and experience that the company is seeking.

You also have to be confident and comfortable. Show the hiring manager that you have the skills, experience and interpersonal acumen to handle any tough situation that may crop up.

You should sell yourself in a way that you are the best match for the opened position. But if the hiring manager does not give you that opportunity, then it would be his mistake and loss.

Affinity Effect

Because human beings don’t tend to think as logically as they like to think, you can make use of the affinity effect. This happens when the interviewer/hiring manager thinks that the both of you are similar.

This can be easily achieved during an interview. Studies have shown that if you copy an action, such as if the interviewer crosses his legs and you do too, then he is more likely to like you more.

Besides that, if you can talk well during the interview and say the things the hiring manager wants to hear (but not lying about your credentials or experience, of course), you are likely going to make him/her feel that the two of you are similar personalities.

As much as we want to eliminate discrimination during the hiring process, there is absolutely going to be interrogating on an interpersonal level. No one will want to hire someone that they won’t like. Your personality is a big factor that will come into play.

In theory, the hiring manager should not allow your affinity with him or her to overshadow your achievements, skills and experience. But the affinity effect will subconsciously place you in a more favorable light in the hiring manager’s mind.

Sense of Humor

The affinity effect will tie in with your personality. No matter what interview it is for what job, always manage to muster a smile and a laugh (at the appropriate time, of course).

I know there’s advice that tells candidates to be professional and serious, but that might work against you.

Hiring managers have seen it all: those who can manage and even excel under pressure, and those who crack. Not being able to smile or laugh during a tense situation like an interview is going to increase the chances of you being placed in the latter category.

On the other hand, if you can demonstrate your sense of humor, you’ll be conveying a comfortable confidence, which will be felt by the interviewer. He/she will then be more inclined to think that you are able to handle high-pressure situations without falling apart. This adds to your credibility.

Nobody is Perfect

Hiring managers are always on the lookout for the “perfect” candidate. In reality, no one will ever be perfect. No matter how pristine the CV, or how flawlessly executed the interview, there will always be little nit-picks.

The aim is not to be the perfect candidate, but the one closest to perfect. If you find that your CV or interviews aren’t going too well for you, apply these psychological theories and hopefully, things will be better for you.

About the Author

James Ient is CFO (Asia Pacific) at interdealer broker Tradition and is co-founder of recruitment firm Blake-Dair Consulting.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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