Seeking Respect in Interviews
I have several new clients whose natural style is to be direct in their communication. In contrast, they have a high need for respect in their dealings with other people, as defined by their Birkman Assessment.
In other words, the way they communicate is not how they want to be treated. Hmm…an interesting combination. This is far more common than you think. Most of us communicate in a more direct fashion than we want others to communicate with us.
These clients, who are seeking respect, will often back off their usual style when they first meet someone. They will ask more questions and listen more to get the respect they desire.
Does this work in an interview situation? Not necessarily!
Have you been failing in interviews because you are not your authentic self?
Note: This post was originally published in December of 2014 and was updated in April of 2018.
This “style” is actually fairly common with really good salespeople. They tend to be fairly aggressive in their communications style except when they meet someone new like a new sales lead. What they do is back off from their naturally aggressive communication style and start to ask really good probing questions. At this point, they become very good listeners which is what a good salesperson is supposed to do. Once they gained the new client’s respect they can start reverting to their more natural direct style of communications.
This works really well in a sales call but is disastrous in an interview situation. If you want that next sales position you had better be prepared to sell yourself from the outset.
Interviewing with Unfamiliar People
It is very common that you will interview with the hiring manager and potential future peers that you are unfamiliar with. What can you do? Try the following:
- Court everyone on the interview list, but please do not stalk! Learn as much as possible about the people you will be speaking with. You may want to research them on FaceBook and particularly find pictures of them on social media. Make sure you can recognize them when you first meet them in the interview. The more familiar you are with them, both personality and visually wise the quicker you will revert to your natural style.
- Be prepared to tell stories to answer any question they may ask. “Let me tell you about the time when…” If you have your stories down cold, you can tell them with authenticity and be your natural self. You do not want to memorize the stories but be able to tell them in a natural way.
- Be prepared mentally by following these three steps for walking into your interview with confidence. This is far more important than most people think. If you walk into this situation feeling good about yourself, your confidence will exude from every pore in your body.
- Be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want the job. Are you excited about the job opportunity? If so, be prepared to show it. I have always said you cannot fake passion.
Bring a set of probing questions with you to the interview. You want to probe for pain points. The more insightful the questions you ask, the faster you will gain the respect you want. My favorite is “what keeps you up at night?”.
Hopefully, you have used some of these questions during the screening interviews which would allow you to tailor them to each person you are interviewing with.
We are setting ourselves up to get the respect we want as fast as possible. The more we know how we fit into this new organization the faster we will revert to our natural communications style. We all are human and should seek to become comfortable with the situation as quickly as possible.
Use probing questions to get yourself comfortable quickly.
Closing the Interview
Be prepared with a set of questions that will help you determine whether the job is a good fit for you. Please rehearse asking these questions so that they roll off your tongue. This does not mean memorizing them but know them well enough that you can tailor them to any situation.
Practice asking these questions with others and in front of a mirror. Be as natural and direct as your usual style.
Pay Attention to You
Do you know what is your natural style of communicating? Pay attention to how you naturally communicate. Ask your friends and colleagues (who you trust) to describe your communication style.
One of my favorite exercises that I use with my clients is to ask 3 people who know you from work and 3 people who know you from your personal life for 3-5 words or phrases that describe you.
The more you understand how you communicate, you will be able to identify when you are seeking respect in an interview and adjust accordingly.
If you have been getting to the final round of interviews and losing each time this may be the reason.