In previous posts, I have written about the importance of impression management and the relationship psychology involved with job interviews and an overall career strategy. In my Career Strategy Master Classes, I dig a little deeper on 5 critical issues in shepherding hiring managers to settle on you as their candidate of choice. Here they are – but remember, these are techniques of persuasion, not argumentation:
- Given the various presuppositions, prejudices, and preferences hiring managers bring to the hiring process, realize that for some individuals, persuasion may be a challenge for you. A hiring manager with a death grip on an issue or opinion is likely so engaged based more on emotion or beliefs than fact or reason. He or she is operating from a own blind spot where they are blind to their blindness. The strategy here is to employ a series of nudges rather than one big push to gradually move them off their fixed position.
- The core of your impression management strategy is always about the hiring manager’s needs and issues, not yours. Your series of nudges must resonate with what is important to the hiring manager; otherwise, you won’t make any progress with self-aggrandizement language.
- Remove disparaging rhetoric from your impression management language. Eliminate any thoughts or verbiage that denigrate ideas or individuals. I was once part of an interview team that was vetting a software programmer who was asked to draw on a whiteboard how he would code a particular programming problem. When one of the interviewers asked him why he didn’t opt for a different code approach (one the interviewer preferred), the candidate sneered, “Why go that route? That’s a stupid approach…” and then failed to explain why it was so.
- Determine what concerns or issues might prevent the hiring manager from considering you further for the position (he or she may offer that information voluntarily in the interview), and acknowledge his or her concerns. But don’t acknowledge that they are issues. Remove those concerns by focusing on the future benefits of your expertise in a sequence of nudges. Remove the objections one nudge at a time.
- Incorporate storytelling into your impression management strategy. Some hiring managers may ask you to relate an experience where you solved some problem – or failed to resolve it. That’s not quite what I’m talking about here. Storytelling is a powerful form of persuasion that provides a different perspective or context outside of the “raw data” that’s so typical of interview data collection. A black-and-white fact has a greater impact when it is couched in a colorful story that reinforces the fact – especially when used near the end of the interview.Moby-Dick author, Herman Melville, was a master storyteller. Entertaining Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife one evening, he related a story of a fight he had witnessed on an island in the South Seas, in which one of the Polynesian warriors had wreaked havoc among his foes with a heavy club. Striding about the room, Melville demonstrated the feats of valor and the desperate drama of the battle. After he had gone, Mrs. Hawthorne thought she remembered that he had left empty-handed, and wondered, “Where is that club with which Mr. Melville was laying about him so?:” Mr. Hawthorne maintained that that he must have taken it with him, and a search of the room revealed nothing. The next time they saw him, they asked him what happened to the club. It turned out there was no club; it had simply been a figment of their imagination, conjured up by the vividness of Melville’s storytelling.
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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).