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An interview is a lot like a first date. There are lots of similarities but some huge differences!  So don’t get the two confused!  You usually don’t know each other.  However, these days it’s likely you’ve seen their photo on social media.  So thank goodness no more blind dates!

You are both gathering information to check if you want to go on to that second interview (date!).  Quite often, it’s all about the chemistry first!  Do we feel the other person is genuine?  Does this person fit with the values?  How does the other person make you feel?  Or Are there any red flags or alarm bells!

Can this elusive chemistry be explained?  Can we describe what it looks like or assign some criteria to objectively measure this chemistry?

There’s a lot going on in the interview (as well as a first date). You are both sussing each other out and gathering lots and lots of data. We are using all of our senses to gather this data consciously and unconsciously.

We are picking up on words, tone and body language.  Professor Albert Mehrabian conducted research into the elements of communication.

His work is often widely misquoted and oversimplified.

According to Professor Albert Mehrabian, there are three elements that we take into consideration when attempting to interpret our likes and dislikes (feelings and attitudes) towards someone: Words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38% and body language accounts for 55%.

Of course, we can be clouded by the chemistry which affects how we evaluate the compatibility!  You know what I’m talking about!  We’ve all been there! We really like someone, we really connect and we seem to have rapport but hang on are they right for the job! There’s plenty of chemistry but they may be lacking in the compatibility!

For a successful relationship (work and partner) you have to have both chemistry and compatibility.

With that in mind, it’s not just about the chemistry.  It’s also about how fit you are!  No, I’m not talking about how attractive you are or how physically fit you happen to be (although, I’ve read research that suggests this does, in fact, help land a job!).

Fit or compatibility with the job, the team and the company.  It’s about can you do the job, are you willing to do the job and do you fit the company values (Job Fit, Motivational Fit and Corporate Culture Fit).

Face Fits (Personality or Team Fit)

Unfortunately, this is a reality. I’m often asked when delivering interview skills workshops whether hiring managers make decisions about face fit, personality fit and team fit. The quick answer is yes they do.

As a specialist recruiter, it would have been my role to determine as much as possible the objective indicators to be able to measure this subjective team or personality fit.

It’s far less likely a trained recruitment specialist will make these types of subjective decisions. However, we’re human and we also have conscious and unconscious bias and so on.

Look, the reality is people want to work with people they like. It’s human nature and if you don’t fit into the business or fit with each other why would you want to spend more time together.

Body language

This is a hugely complex subject and I’m not claiming to be an expert here. I would suggest that some hiring managers are probably not subject matter experts on body language either but will make decisions based on their map of the world, bias, unconscious bias, values, beliefs and a ton of personal preferences.

Again we can be blinded by the signals we receive from others. If someone makes us feel good, respected and that warm glow we are likely to ignore some of the other signals telling us things don’t necessarily align here. We can ignore the early flags if the chemistry is powerful.

Our emotional reactions to each other are a combination of so many factors, both conscious and unconscious, that we’ll never be able to pinpoint them all with any certainty. And not only that, but what causes one person to have a positive reaction to you might make another feel completely different (or even indifferent). Mark Manson

First impression and lasting impressions

Yes, first impressions count.  It’s all about the chemistry!  All the data we take in and process and assess (judge) in the first few seconds.

You have little to no control over what the other person thinks about you in those all important first exchanges.  You have no control over someone’s beliefs, values, bias or unconscious bias.

All you can do is take responsibility for the things you have total control over.  Taking time to prepare, your appearance, presentation, arriving on time, being polite and courtesy to everyone you meet, your attitude, behaviours, actions, being honest and saying please and thank you!

The rest is all about the chemistry and compatibility!

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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