There’s Only Two Real Criteria to Judge Job Seekers On

Interview employee relations

If you’re out looking for a job it usually feels like you’re being judged on every little thing you do, have done or potentially will do in the future.

Interestingly enough, a Harvard professor discovered you’re actually only judged on two things. From a story on Yahoo:

People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years, and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her new book, Presence, Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.”

Getting the most out of an interview

Trust and respect. I’ll add that these are probably the two things you’re being judged on immediately following the judging that gets done on your overall appearance, which is almost instantaneous! Let’s face it, we like to hire pretty people.

Once you open your mouth, you’re being judged on how well can I trust what this person is telling me, can I respect their background, work ethic, where they came from, etc. Most of this is based on the person doing the judging, not you. I know, that sucks.

How do you help yourself in an interview?

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  1. Try and mirror the energy of the person who is interviewing you. If you come in all calm and cool, and the person who is interviewing is really upbeat and high energy, they’ll immediately question you as a fit.
  2. Do research on who you’ll be interviewing with and try and get some sense of their background and story. Try and make some connections as fast as possible in the interview. This will help build trust and respect with this person. In today’s world, it’s not that hard to find out stuff on an individual. If HR sets up your interview, just politely ask who you will be interviewing with (the name).
  3. Be interesting. Have a good story to tell, one that most people will find funny or interesting. Not too long. You need a good icebreaker to set the interview off on a great tone.

Not a test, but a conversation

I tell people all the time: An interview isn’t a test, it’s just a conversation with some people you don’t know.

We have these all the time. Sometimes you end up liking the people, sometimes you don’t. If you don’t like the people you’re interviewing with, there’s a good chance you won’t like the job!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.