31. Influence What Your Interviewer Thinks of You

There’s a good chance you’ve read Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie’s book details how to leverage human psychology to influence people, which is gold when your goal is to get your interviewer to green light hiring you. The sections ‘Six Ways to Make People Like You’ and ‘Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking’ offer suggestions that can be incredibly potent to your job search success, as well as career success. 

Everyone has felt anxious and powerless talking to a hiring manager. I know I have when I was first interviewing, especially if my interviewer was the gatekeeper, between me and what I thought was my dream job. 

I finally realized my nervousness was because I wasn’t setting the stage for the discussion I wanted to have. I wasn’t controlling the “conversation frame.”

Only one person controls the conversation frame: Either I or the other person. (e.g., my interviewer) When my interviewer does, they’re calling the shots. They’re expecting me to chase them, demonstrate my value as an employee, impress them with my background, show how much I want to work for them, etc. Sound familiar? When I allowed my interviewer to control the frame, I had no control over the outcome—I was hoping to “get lucky.” 

Years ago, after walking out of an interview, I knew I could have done better; I asked myself, what if I had controlled the frame of the conversation? How would my interviewer have reacted differently? I’ll tell you how. There’s a good chance (There’s no guarantee, humans are unpredictable.) they’d have said to themselves, “Wow! Who is this person?” and think, “This person knows who they are and what they want.” Of all the personality traits you can project, having confidence is by far the most attractive. All of us are attracted to those who exude confidence. Think what makes Brad Pitt “BRAD PITT!”; it’s how he exudes confidence.

When you control the frame of the conversation, your interviewer will seek your approval. (Yes, I’ve experienced this.) They’ll start talking to you more. They’ll care more about what you think of them and their company. They’ll want you to like them. Now, you’re the one calling the shots, and your interviewer is the one responding, reacting, and chasing. When you own “the frame,” you have the power to control what your interviewer thinks of you. So how do you control the frame?

You start by not treating job interviews as a delicate ego dance in which you’re bending over backwards trying to present your best self while hoping to not cross the line between enthusiasm and groveling. The notion of a job interview as an audition is antiquated. Such a mindset doesn’t do you any favours. When you overly focus on impressing your interviewer(s), you lose sight of whether they’re making an effort to impress you.

Flip your thinking. Stop thinking you’re in the hot seat! Instead, ask yourself how an in-demand candidate (Envision yourself as being such a candidate.), one who’s constantly head-hunted, would treat a meeting with a potential employer. They’d use their face time to ask questions to evaluate the employer and gauge whether the opportunity fits their career plan. 

Candidates I gravitate to ask me straightforward questions (Being unambiguous is a huge plus with me.) that show they’re curious and serious about a mutual fit. Such candidates get me talking.

Ask questions to fully understand the job opportunity, which’ll shed light on the company’s operations and your future boss’s management style. “How will you manage me?” (Presuming you’re speaking with the person you’ll be reporting to.) Don’t waste your questions on softballs. If you’re interviewing at a company that’s undergone a round of layoffs, address it head-on. “In August Burns Industries laid off over 250 employees in its Alberta manufacturing plant. How do you see the next 2 years looking like for Burns Industries?”

If the role is new, ask why it was created and why no one internally was promoted? You want to get a semblance of what you may be walking into. 

Because interviews involve human bias, which you can’t control, they’re unpredictable. However, there’s one thing you’ll always be able to control, the “conversation frame,” which’ll greatly influence how your interviewer thinks of you.

On an end note, if you haven’t read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I recommend you do; it’ll significantly impact your job search and career.