When candidates aim to be likable in job interviews, there’s a medley of psychological tricks that they can employ. Managers, it would behoove you to be aware of the possible ploys candidates use to secure a position in your company – subconsciously, without you even knowing! To make your selection as unbiased as possible, get wise to candidates who use these 5 psychological tricks to influence job interviews, and the effects they may be having on your hiring process.
The Primacy Effect
In various experiments, psychologists have learned how important a first impression is in an interview setting. The first few seconds play a huge role in deciding which applicant will win the job. When hiring managers have already gotten an impression of whether the candidate is likable or arrogant, then they typically stick to this feeling. This is also the case when the candidate changes their behavior, or makes a deceptive first impression. “Primacy” is the phenomenon that causes people to fall back on the first impression they received, rather than changing their minds in light of new findings. For applicants, this means that if they can sparkle during the beginning of the interview, and remain kind and confident throughout the rest, they’ve already got a foot in the door. To maintain your objective perspective, managers should take detailed notes throughout the interview, and discuss the candidate with other objective colleagues.
The Halo Effect
The so-called “Halo Effect” is closely related to first impressions. Based on one positive characteristic, managers tend to glean an overall positive impression of a candidate – creating an exaggerated impression of the candidate and their “holy” first impression. For applicants who are particularly attractive or charismatic, other weaknesses in their work experience or slip-ups in the interview may be overlooked.
Hiring managers should be careful to decide if the applicant is really a great fit for the suggested position, or if they’re simply good at selling themself. This is another case where it’s helpful to exchange with colleagues to get a second more objective opinion.
In situations where applicants want to make a great first impression, they unintentionally wind up mimicking the posture, expressions and gestures of their conversation partners. It might be as simple as crossing one’s legs to mirror their partners’, or tucking one’s hair behind their ear. In multiple studies, researchers have shown that mirroring an interviewer’s body language has a positive effect. If you notice that a candidate is mimicking you to an extreme, be aware that they’re most likely trying to win your approval.
The Blue “Team Player”
Whether you realize or not, the color of an applicant’s clothing may affect a hiring manager’s judgment when it comes to interpreting characteristics. This was discovered in a survey of American managers and HR employees. The color gray is often related to analytical skills. Those who wear white are considered to be well organized. Red clothing symbolizes power, and a black outfit indicates strong leadership. The best color of clothing for an interview is blue – it symbolizes that one is a “team player.” However, it could also be that your applicant is wise to this knowledge – they may be playing that navy blue suit to their advantage. Once more, the key to avoiding this trick is to be aware of these “meanings,” and work to isolate your perception of their character in relation to the color of their clothes.
The Anchor Rule
Finally, when the interview has reached the negotiations stage, and talks turn to salaries, managers need to be highly aware of this easy-to-implement tip. The Anchor Rule says that the first number named in salary negotiations will play a large role in the final outcome of the promised salary. In most situations, managers and new employees meet somewhere in the middle. When the candidate names the first sum, and can support the reasoning for it, the chances increase that the managers may allow themselves to be steered by this first “anchor” point, and negotiate towards a higher salary than they initially intended. This is the kind of situation that all hiring managers need to avoid. Therefore, take care to stick to your initial budgeted estimate for salary expectations – unless the candidate’s worth it.
About the Author
Felicitas Wilke studied business and journalism and attended the Deutsche Journalistenschule. She works as a freelance journalist in Munich. She enjoys writing about topics affecting the economy and has a passion for Scandinavia. She is a keen supporter of the black and yellow football team Borussia Dortmund.