To Get the Job – Use Magic
The key to understanding is feeling understood.
“Our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives. Imagine if we could all understand each other.”
Getting past hiring biases based on stereotypes and false impressions is often the hardest challenge my clients face. My clients, who are transitioning back into their careers or to a new career, are what Ori Brafman, in “The Chaos Imperative” would call “unlikely candidates.” These are the candidates that don’t map to your standard employee profile but, if seen from a different angle, might be exactly who you need.
A coaching client recently pointed out one common experience of unlikely candidates – “The interviewer had already made his mind up before he even met me. I don’t know why he bothered interviewing me. Nothing I said was getting through, even though I knew I was perfect for the job.”
Employers frequently make snap judgements about who we are based on limited information and stereotypes. Post judgement, they can’t hear or see anything different.
If you know that your first impression will trigger a negative judgement with an interviewer (you lack the desired experience, have been out of the paid workforce for a while, have worked in a different industry, etc.), you have a challenge before you.
You also have a choice – resign yourself to never really being seen and give up, or think like a magician, anticipate the impression and use it to your advantage.
Seek to understand every person you speak with before you try to get them to understand you.
Think about it. When we feel understood, it doesn’t matter who is talking to us, we are predisposed to like the person in front of us. They get us! Consequently, we feel they are worthy of being in our circle.
Understanding your interviewer, is your MAGIC WAND.
Guess what? This is also the key to successful selling and, in an interview, you are selling YOU.
Shifting someone’s initial assessment of you is challenging, but not impossible. You just need a little bit of MAGIC.
First, you need to understand how the deck is stacked against you. Laszlo Bock, from Google, discusses the power of confirmation bias during an interview in the book “Work Rules.” He points to a study out of the University of Toledo which suggests that an assessment is made about a candidate within the first seconds of an interview. Interviewers are then subject to confirmation bias and spend the rest of the interview looking for supporting evidence for the original assessment, largely blind to counter evidence. What to do?
You need to shock their system.
Providing just one incongruous piece of information that doesn’t fit their idea of who you are can break down a preconceived assessment and snap them to attention.
The trick, is focusing on two core components that are critical to the success of any relationship:
The Magic of Connecting
- Context – Find common language. If you want to successfully connect with someone, you need to understand who they are, what they think about and what challenges they might face. You need to be able to speak in a language they understand, so they feel understood. Once they feel understood, magic happens. They open up to you.
- Access – Actively seek and engage. We naturally gravitate to those who are like us. In order to connect with someone who is different from us, we need to step out of our comfort zone and take active steps to engage and be curious rather than separate and judge.
When you tie these critical components together you can help negate the hiring bias against you. (or improve the outcome of literally any conversation!)
As an interview candidate, it is your responsibility to actively engage and break through that initial judgement by speaking the interviewer’s language so well, that you are able to break through the closed doors in their mind, and let them know you understand them. You need to make the barriers to seeing you disappear.
But how? Be Bold. What have you got to lose?
1. Call out the elephant in the room.
Own who you are and demonstrate that you understand them by naming the obvious concerns they might have. Then, shift their perspective on these concerns.
- “I don’t have the exact experience you are looking for, but I do have XYZ and this is how I can help you with the challenges you are facing today…”
- “You are concerned because I have been out of my career for X years, but I’m hungry to learn and make a real difference. I’m happy to tell you about what I have learned during this time and how it is related to the work you do.”
2. Ask insightful questions
Be curious about them and their work, but know their industry and work better than they think you do. Do your research so you can demonstrate that you understand them and their challenges by asking questions that get to the heart of their current concerns.
3. Connect on a personal level.
We are all individuals first, and last. Share a common interest and find a kindred spirit. Share common friends and find a bond. Share a personal passion with someone and find a fan because you have demonstrated that you understand them. Regardless of the level of responsibility someone has, we all want to be understood. Remember this, and magically, doors will open.
In today’s world companies are investing in workshops and assessments in an effort to negate the effect of biases, and open the doors to diverse thought. Candidates need to be just as proactive.
Shifting the way you approach your interviewers will help employers make the extra effort to be curious and engage you – the “unlikely candidate.”
Rise to the challenge and show them your magic!
Is it time to REvolve YOU?
REvolve YOU Core Mindset #1 –
“The key to understanding, is feeling understood.”
Interested in learning more about how I help people reinvent? Reach out at info@REvolveYOU.com.
If you haven’t seen it yet…Brian Miller’s Ted Talk is worth the watch.
Julia Freeland has been pushing boundaries, and inspiring others to do the same, since she first discovered they were limiting her from getting to where she wanted to go. Her current focus is helping pave the way for more women to make it back to leadership roles after taking time to be with children. Interested in learning more about her passion for reinvention, having her speak at your event or just wondering how she made a panel discussion not be boring? She is happy to connect on LinkedIn or at REvolveYOU.com.