Everyone has a different interview style. Some interviewers get right down to the business and don’t waste time with small talk. Others kick off an interview with softball questions as a way to relax the candidate and get to know their personality better. Eventually, harder questions are asked, and the interview dance begins.
Whenever people are interviewing, they wonder if their answers are in line with the interviewer. A candidate wants to connect with the interviewer. They want to be liked in hopes that the connection is a catalyst for being hired.
One way to help facilitate connection is to mimic the interviewer’s gestures or verbiage. Don’t do this aggressively or it’ll be obvious and seem like a game of Simon says. Instead, focus on how the interviewer sits or gestures. A few times during the interview find ways to mirror either the body language or the actual language of the interviewer.
If the interviewer mentions a desire for a candidate that is innovative or good with deadlines be sure to reiterate those qualities using their own phrases or words in your answers. If you find the interviewer listens with their hands folded, you may consider making the same posture during the next round of questions.
Once the thick of the interview begins and the harder questions are being asked, how do you respond? Is there a universal response that always wins with hard interview questions? Yes. First, listen to the hard or complex question and smile. Then compliment the interviewer on their question, “You know, that is a really great question.”
This works because the interviewer immediately feels they are doing their job well. Everyone likes to feel like they are skilled in what they do. Complimenting them is an instant way to spark pride in the interviewer. Regardless of how you answer the question, the interviewer is probably still caught up on the compliment. Their reaction to whatever you say is usually overwhelmingly positive because it began with a rush of positive feelings.
You can overdo it, though. Don’t tell them every question is a good one. Find a way to mention once or twice how great their question is when they ask. This allows you to make a positive connection with the interviewer beyond just selling your resume and skill set. The interviewer will now have the chance to see not only will you add value to the company, but you also see their value.
Every manager and interviewer wants to feel valued and respected by their staff. Knowing you feel this way about them builds their confidence in you and themselves. Everyone wins, and it could help you win the job.
Originally published on Ladders.
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