Hiring decisions can often be more subjective then we realize. Of course, it’s a matter of meeting the job requirements; but oftentimes it goes beyond this. When evaluating a potential candidate, interviewers, whether they know it or not, are influenced by a candidate’s likability factor. Lauren Rivera, a Northwestern University sociology professor loves to talk about the processes people in power employ to make decisions. She’s even gone so far as to study how bouncers at exclusive nightclubs make snap decisions about who gets in and who’s stuck standing in line. What she discovers in her research has surprising consequences in your job search and interview process.
Simply stated, interviewers hire people they like. It seems straightforward enough but there’s a scientific name for this phenomenon, homosocial reproduction. This is a fancy way of saying that employers tend to select candidates that most closely resemble themselves. So how do you increase your likability factor with a potential employer when you may not always see obvious similarities on the surface?
As a potential candidate, there are certain things you can do to capitalize on this information and have it work towards your advantage. When possible try to conduct some research on your interviewer. Find out any potential interests you might share. If this is not an option, then scan the office during your interview for tell tale clues about the person’s interests. Be observant. Maybe there’s a picture of a recent fishing trip, or a picture of their child’s soccer game. Maybe there are pictures of recent travel or a favorite family pet sitting on the desk. Does the interviewer seem to have the latest sate of the art gadgets? Use these clues to help find common ground and make a connection. As studies indicate, this can go a long way towards increasing your likeability quotient with a potential employer. While you may not always resemble an interviewer in obvious ways, finding common ground in an authentic way can assist you in the hiring process.