We are naturally drawn towards people who are similar to us. This of course can have negative and positive consequences. On the one hand, we may be shutting ourselves out from those who are different, and experiences that could enrich our lives. But on the other, we may quickly find someone with whom we connect. More importantly for a job interviewee, we have the opportunity to quickly form a strong rapport with our interviewer in the limited amount of time we have with them. You can do this…if you know where to look. The tendency of people to be drawn to those who are similar to themselves can be linked to a psychological study conducted by Ellen Berscheid, Elaine Walster and Donn Byrne in 19711. They showed that there are many reasons for this. People feel as if they are not alone. Others with similar behavior are more predictable. Finally, you’re likely to be liked. Remember likability!  

There are two main ways that interviewees can take advantage of this similarity phenomenon. One is done through research, and the other is done by in-the-moment observation.

The first, more spur-of-the-moment way to take advantage of perceived similarity is by mirroring behavior. People in general, tend to subconsciously respond favorably to those who behave and comport themselves similarly to them. Fast talkers connect well with other fast talkers. Smiling tends to elicit more smiling from the other person. If someone crosses their legs in the middle of the conversation, studies show that you should do the same thing. You’re on the same wavelength. You have an unspoken understanding – an energy about you that seems to surface as the conversation evolves.

Have you ever hit it off with someone at a social event, at work or in school because you all of a sudden discovered that this person shares your affinity for baseball? How about the person with whom you instantly connect because you went to the same school? Or for military veterans, bonus, you’ve discovered someone who served in your same unit, or theatre of operations overseas. Knowing these types of things about your interviewer beforehand used to be a tricky task to undertake. That was of course before the days of LinkedIn.

While it’s true that you should do extensive research on the company to which you are applying, you should also be doing your homework on the people who will actually be conducting your interview. Chances are high that your HR representative will inform you beforehand, of who your interviewer will be. Use this to search for them on LinkedIn and learn as much as you can about them. Most likely, they will have the most important and favorite highlights of their career listed in their profile. You can see where they went to university. You may even be able to tell where they grew up based upon whether or not they list their high school. Do they belong to any volunteer groups with causes that align with your own? All of this is great background knowledge to inform you, and bring up in the interview, particularly during your time to question them. Remember to do this in a casual way that does not convey any awkward vibes for either of you.  Something along the lines of, “I happened to notice on your LinkedIn profile that you’re involved with X, so am I!†It’s OK to bring up these things. Not only will working in information about them establish a connection for you, but you will also become much more memorable to them when it comes time to making the hiring decision. Your common passion for child literacy just may put you over the bar for it.

As you do your research prior to your interview, remember that knowing about the people with whom you’ll be speaking with is just as, if not more important than knowing about the company itself. Finding commonalities is one of the best ways to ensure a memorable connection with the interviewer, and to nail your interview.

Original post can be found at: candorful.com/candorfeed.


1 https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/similarityattraction-theory, International Encyclopedia of Social Science, Thomson Gale 2008

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