How to Be More Likable During an Interview

Interview candidates looking at papers

Have you ever gone on an interview and thought things went well, but you never heard back from the organization? Unfortunately, many life sciences professionals have experienced this disappointing situation. Today, it’s common to not receive any feedback from companies that you interview with if they decide to go in another direction. In the event you do get some insight into why a hiring manager chose another candidate, it’s often a vague response along the lines of, “We found someone who is a better fit.”  If you meet all of the requirements and preferred credentials based on a job description, hearing that can be very frustrating.

The concept of company culture is a hot topic in the workplace now. Many organizations ask specific questions to see if you’re a “cultural fit.” It’s easy to understand how hearing the comment that you weren’t a “cultural fit,” can be confusing and create more questions than answers. The key to most interviews is coming across as likable. This might sound unfair or subjective, but it is subconsciously how many decisions are made. Usually, most candidates that progress to the in-person interview process have the same (or similar) levels of education, experience, and skills. Therefore, the interview is designed to see if they enjoy being around you. Basically, do they like you? Here are four ways to be more likable during an interview!

Find a connection

Establishing a connection with the hiring manager and the company you’re interviewing with can make a positive impact on how they view you. If you know the name of your interviewer before the meeting, you can research them online and see if there are any commonalities. Did you ever work in the same industry, city or in similar roles? Did you attend the same university or have you both attained the same degree? If there is a connection, being able to slip it into the conversation helps to create a sense of familiarity.

Be conscious of your body language

What was the initial impression you made on your current friends? Do you know how you come across to others when you first meet them? Most professionals are not truly aware of the first impression they make. Be sure to smile, nod, and appear engaged in the conversation. Often, deep thinkers and introverts can be more difficult to read at the first meeting. A stoic nature with folded arms can come across as mean or unlikable. As a candidate, you might feel as though you’re in the hot seat and be unaware of your body language. Check in with yourself regularly and notice your posture and expressions.

Listen as much as possible

Listening is an important skill that many people forget while they’re in an interview. It’s easy to believe that an interview is all about selling yourself, and think you need to talk as much as possible. Truly listening to the questions, comments, and answers you receive, signal to the hiring manager that you won’t be high maintenance to work with. People want to be heard and like when others allow them to get their point across without judgment.

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Keep it positive

Remaining positive might sound obvious, but its tempting to speak negatively about failed projects or positions. Many hiring managers probe for challenges in past roles and could ask directly about your working experience at another company. Some life sciences professionals allow their attempt at being honest to lead them into a negative conversation. Perhaps your last organization was toxic, always late with finishing projects, and you hated your boss. Find a way to word the experience, so it doesn’t sound overly negative or like you are blaming others.

During the interview process, many organizations are screening candidates to see if they are a good fit. Decision-making standards can seem arbitrary, and you might not ever learn why they chose another candidate for the role.  Your overall likability is an intangible aspect that can be the reason why you get the job or not since in the final rounds of interviews, most candidates have the same knowledge and skills. Finding a genuine connection, being conscious of your body language, and listening intently can influence your likability. Remaining positive (even on negative subjects) is also necessary to be seen as a safe hire. What is something you can do to increase your likability in an interview?

Porschia Parker-Griffin is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. ( She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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