Interviewing

Seven Small Things People Use To Decide If They Like You

 

The human brain is hardwired to judge. This survival mechanism makes it very hard to meet someone without evaluating and interpreting their behavior.

While we tend to think that our judgments are based on the content of conversations and other obvious behaviors, the research says otherwise. In fact, the majority of our judgments are focused on smaller, subtler things, such as handshakes and body language. We often form complete opinions about people based solely on these behaviors.

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We are so good at judging other people’s personalities based on small things that, in a University of Kansas study, subjects accurately predicted people’s personality traits, such as extroversion/introversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, simply by looking at pictures of the shoes they wore.

Our unconscious behaviors have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. These behaviors have likely become an integral part of who you are, and if you don’t spend much time thinking about them, now is a good time to start, because they could be sabotaging your career.

How you treat waiters and receptionists. How you treat support staff is so indicative of your makeup that it has become a common interview tactic. By gauging how you interact with support staff on your way in and out of the building, interviewers get a sense for how you treat people in general. Most people act the part when they’re speaking to the hiring manager or other “important” people, but some will pull a Jekyll and Hyde act the moment they walk out the door, treating others with disdain or indifference. Business lunches are another place this comes to light. No matter how nice you are to the people you have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witness you behaving badly toward others.

How often you check your phone. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone pulling out their phone mid-conversation. Doing so conveys a lack of respect, attention, listening skills, and willpower. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s wise to keep your phone holstered. A study from Elon University confirms that pulling out your phone during a conversation lowers both the quality and quantity of face-to-face interactions.

Repetitive, nervous habits. Touching your nails or face or picking at your skin typically indicates that you’re nervous, overwhelmed, and not in control. Research from the University of Michigan suggests that these nervous habits are indicative of a perfectionistic personality, and that perfectionists are more likely to engage in these habits when they’re frustrated or bored.

How long you take to ask questions. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talked about themselves the entire time? The amount of time someone allows to pass before they take an interest in you is a strong personality indicator. People who only talk about themselves tend to be loud, self-absorbed “takers.” People who only ask questions and share little about themselves are usually quiet, humble “givers.” Those who strike a nice balance of give-and-take are reciprocators and good conversationalists.

Your handshake. It’s common for people to associate a weak handshake with a lack of confidence and an overall lackadaisical attitude. A study at the University of Alabama showed that, although it isn’t safe to draw assumptions about someone’s competence based on their handshake, you can accurately identify personality traits. Specifically, the study found that a firm handshake equates with being less shy, less neurotic, and more extroverted.

Tardiness. Showing up late leads people to think that you lack respect and tend to procrastinate, as well as being lazy or disinterested. Contrary to these perceptions, a San Diego State University study by Jeff Conte revealed that tardiness is typically seen in people who multitask, or are high in relaxed, Type B personality traits. Conte’s study found that Type B individuals are often late because they experience time more slowly than the rest of us. Bottom line here is not to read too much into people showing up late. It’s better to ask what’s behind it than to make assumptions.

Eye contact. The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100% of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed. Studies show that maintaining eye contact for roughly 60% of a conversation strikes the right balance and makes you come across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.

Bringing It All Together

Sometimes the little things in life make a big difference. It’s good to be ready for them, so that you can make a strong impression.

What other behaviors yield insight into people’s personalities? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Travis Bradbury

Contributor

Forbes Magazine

Drowning in Guilt-How to hire millennials—and weed out the bad ones

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Yes, I hear you complain about them every day: Those millennials, they ask about vacation time in the first interview! They get a bad cold and disappear for days!

They want my job after a week in their job!

“Who do these upstarts think they are,” you moan to me over every business lunch.

I feel your pain—but question your premise. Sure, there are tons of indolent slackers lounging in their parents’ rec rooms and some of them should stay there because they make terrible employees. But don’t dismiss the generation; just take some hiring and management precautions. Here are six steps to weeding out the duds and finding the eager hard-chargers who’ll stick around, build your business and make you look good.

 1. Be brutally honest in the interview.

I used to mince words with prospective employees. In my lexicon, senior people with monstrous egos that needed to be not only tolerated but massaged were referred to as “challenging” or “difficult.”

I’m not polite any more.

I tell the prospective employee that the wine industry marketing environments, for an example can be hard to work in. I also tell them I don’t allow screaming, yelling, throwing things ain the organizations they may work in.…but those “difficult” people will still find ways to torture you. (I don’t, of course tell them that back in the day,  at X Winery, one of the Sr. Marketing VP threw a box of yellow Kleenex at a friend of mine saying, “Don’t come back until these are white!”) I also tell them that the WIne Marketing business is a somewhat stagnant business right now. Several tiers of the job ladder have been eliminated and now there are only assistants and senior brand managers. Where I used to have five mid-level jobs to promote assistants into, I now only have one. I tell them it can take four years instead of two to advance. If they are still sitting in the chair across from me when I’m finished with this non-seduction, I figure they must really want the job.

2. Don’t hire them if you sense even a whiff of entitlement. I tell every prospective employee that they will be gofers for the first two years (that means chores like packing wine and POS for various events) even if they won’t be. When one young man who wanted to be a brand manager said, “But my university led me to believe…,” I said, “Stop right there. No one cares what your college led you to believe. They only care if you can use a copy machine and answer phones. That is how we all started.” No surprise: Our discussions ended there.

3. Do a hunger check. For a big part of my career, my assistant’s chair was held by a revolving door of fill in the blank recent top 10 University Grad . I wasn’t looking for a University Grad; it’s not as if I graduated from any of these schools or wanted to do something for my alma mater. It just so happened that at the time, these smart, heads-down kinds of people worked perfectly in the male dominated wine industry. Later on I tried out grads from other Ivies, but after going several rounds with Harvard kids who embarrassed me with their sloppy, “I’m above all this” office work, I put a moratorium on Harvard diplomas. (See, you don’t have to be a millennial to feel entitled.) I feel the same way today: The  hardest-working, most attentive, most intelligent starters still come from schools with un-fancy names. They’re millennials, for sure, but not slackers. I have come to believe that America’s top-tier schools are doing their graduates a disservice by boosting their expectations about starter jobs. Entry level is the great flattener of the working world.

4. Remember, everyone announces themselves in the interview.

I learned this the hard way when I ignored my gut response and hired a young woman who made me feel uncomfortable in the interview. She startled me during our first discussion when she suddenly asked intimate questions about my children. Turns out that in preparing for the interview she had done something smart: She’d gone back and read all of my editor’s letters, in which I’d written often about my kids. But she didn’t explain that in the interview, leaving me to feel she’d snooped in a creepy way, which made me squirm a bit. But I hired her. Our entire time together (less than a year) was marred because she constantly tried to front run my desires and fumbled them; she couldn’t wait for direction.

5. Shake ‘em up a bit. Ok, so I’ve worked with some of the scariest people in wine—and made it through. While some people are just mean and awful because they can be, I’ve carved out a spot as a pretty nice person who is tough but fair. But every now and then, especially when working with the overly pampered (millennial or otherwise), I find it’s a good idea to borrow a trick from the monster-boss playbook and send a tiny chill down their spine. I am a little sterner than I would normally be; I play the tough parent who won’t put up with the crap they just handed me. I let them know I set a high bar and plan for them to jump high enough to clear it.

6. When you find the good ones, help them move up—even if that means losing them. Yes, I said that. When you find those great millennials, be generous. Part the waters for them, give them perks, jump into their court and use your influence to move them along to the next tier when it’s time—even if the better job is not in your winery and it kills you to lose them. That’s how you win their loyalty. Forever. And you just may be nurturing an employee who’ll come back to you years later.

How to address "Your Overqualified"

With downsizing and reorganizations happening more than we would like to admit in the wine industry..everything from sales to production.  Looking for a job has changed. And taking a step laterally or down is becoming more of the norm than the abnormal.. talking to folks I frequently hear this, “They aren’t hiring me because I’m overqualified.” One man e-mailed me about this problem:

“I have a lot of incredible extracurricular professional activities, publishing expertise, project management experience, board leadership skills, etc. I have an MBA, and am a CPA. All of this info is on my  resume because it sets me apart. However, I am concerned that people are viewing me as overqualified for lower-level jobs and eliminating me. Yet, the jobs I am truly qualified for are fairly high up and there are only a handful of openings. Help!”

So what should you do if you’re credentialed with good experience and advanced education, are looking to become re-employed and are even willing to take a lower-level position? Here are a few tips:

Don’t Be Tempted to “Dumb Down!”

This strategy moves your career backward. You typically end up frustrated, not hired or worse — you find a new job you can’t wait to move out of. Most employers today actually want you working at your highest ability level since productivity is key to everyone’s success. They also want to retain you past the many months it takes to train you for the job, so you can begin to make a contribution to the company

Do Some Soul Searching and Savvy Preparation.

Acknowledge that employers are reluctant to hire a person who is overqualified because they think the person is unlikely to be happy, won’t stay long, might want the interviewer’s job or may expect fast promotion. Remember that you can be threatening to the interviewer, especially if you are truly suited for the interviewer’s job! He may think you aren’t seriously interested in doing the job for which you’re being hired — nor do employers want someone who’s burned out or sees the job as an easy paycheck.

Examine why you want the position. “I need a job!” is not a response that will endear you to him. You must use your communication skills to convince him why a demotion is a good option. You must create a reasonable explanation. Try this:

My current position as Regional Sales Manager requires me to cover 14 states, and the job had grown into 15 nights of travel per month. This has become an increasingly difficult sacrifice for my family. I have decided to seek a major accounts-rep position that allows me to focus on my strengths — selling, sustaining top-notch client relationships and up-selling — but also allows me to go home most evenings. This is not an option at my current job. It requires a lot of out-of-town travel to do the job, which I am no longer willing to do. I believe my extensive marketing and sales skills would greatly benefit your organization in a positive way. I see this as a win/win situation for both of us.”

Don’t Show Desperation.

You may feel it, but it will work against your getting hired if you show how frantic you are to get a job. Too often an executive says, “I’ll start at any job just to get my foot in the door.” That won’t work — it’s an outdated strategy. Being willing to take any job often makes the interviewer disqualify you. She needs a competent person to perform the specific job she’s hiring for.

So, you must show not only that you can do it but also that you want to do it. You can offer some advantages, gained from your experience, such as: “My ability to solve problems and train others would be a major plus in the position.” Many employers are slow to hire, yet pay well when they select someone for the position, so patience is essential.

Look Harder for Positions for Which You Are Qualified.

Employers want a good fit and an individual who delivers results. Customize every cover letter you write and tweak your resume to match the opportunity. Be sure to address the major needs required and demonstrate results you’ve achieved in line with the level requested. A former CEO at a smaller company might only be a midlevel executive at a larger organization, so be clear as to how you’re leveraging past experience and leadership to help a potential employer excel.

Networking Is Key to Hearing About and Landing a New Job.

Ask colleagues, friends, former employees, college alumni, and other contacts for referrals to new people who can help you uncover unadvertised positions. An introduction to a senior executive can open new doors and even create a job when no advertised one was available. Department of Labor statistics reveal that 63 percent of all jobs last year were found through contacts, so network, network, NETWORK! and call Benchmark…

How to Ace Lunch Interviews?

How to ace lunch interviews? You made it through your first interview!  Your second interview is over lunch with your perspective new boss.  It is at a great restaurant near their office and you have been there before.  What do you need to know?  What will the employer look for? And this is the wine industry so??? wine with lunch or not?

The Legend

Henry Ford invited job candidates to lunch with him.  He would observe if the candidate would salt his food before tasting it.  If he did, he would not hire him.  If he tasted the food first, he was a person who evaluated situations before taking action.  Henry Ford believed in testing his candidates and this was it.  Many employers evaluate candidates during lunch interviews for things you never think of.

The Test

Are you ready for your test?  You expect hard questions, but many employers want to see how you act in different situations such as a lunch interview.  A lunch interview means you need to juggle a meal, good manners, answer questions while eating a meal, and still be persuasive.  You still need to be aware of being observed while you answer or ask questions.

What is the test?  You may not know, but employers are looking for certain traits.  It could be character, integrity or certain personality!  You cannot prepare for this part so just be natural.  Would the employer do something to see how you would react?  It is possible.  It is more likely that during the meal, he may describe a scenario and ask for your opinion.  Remember, they want to see how you think.  There is no right or wrong answer or is there?

About five years ago I read about how CEOs evaluate candidates based on how they treat waiters in a restaurant.  Some may call it the unwritten rule of lunch interviews.  Would an employer be above staging something and seeing your reaction?  You may never know if it was staged or not!  Handling mistakes, poor service or an accident provides insight into the candidate.  A person who is nice to the employer and rude to the waiter or to others is not a nice person.

Personal

This an interview and you should dress for it.  You never go wrong with a great suit and good grooming. But again the wine industry as a whole is not corporate. If everyone at the first Interview was in fuzzy vests and jeans …then you can tone it down but never to their level.  Always collared shirt, jacket and khakis for the guys and a nice tailored dress & or slacks for the gals.

Do your research and have questions for the employer.  Bring along your questions, a portfolio of your best work and anything else you think is important.  Manners are important, but you need to juggle that and trying to impress the employer too.  Order something simple so you can eat and answer questions without difficulty.  You want to appear confident and at ease with the situation.

The Interview

Arrive early and wait for the employer.  Allow the employer to lead, wait for him/her to sit, take the napkin and order.  Drinks??? You can keep it nonalcoholic such as ice tea, sparkling water or perhaps even juice, but remember this is the wine industry…follow your potential bosses lead… Ask him/her what they would like then order accordingly.  Know what you will order from the menu before you get there.  It takes the pressure off, if the employer makes a quick selection.  Be polite to the server.  Don’t make a big deal about a mistake.

Remember the employer sees how you handle everything.  Don’t eat too fast, or eat and speak at the same time.  Eating too fast or not at all looks as though you are nervous.  Small bites will keep you ready to answer or ask questions.  Never order dessert unless the employer does.  The interview is not over until you are gone.  He may observe you waiting for your car or how you handle a problem.  You are always being evaluated.

Simple things will prevent you from getting the job.  How do you finish the interview?  You should have questions or sample of your work to demonstrate your interest in the job.  Be conscious of the employer’s time.  Make your points and avoids mistakes,  how you handle things will either help you get the job or keep you from it.    What are you going to do?  When you are finished with your meal fold the napkin and leave it by the plate.

Final Thoughts

Lunch interviews put you on the spot!  Keep in mind that the employer is observing you eating, answering questions and how you deal with problems and people.  You can only prepare so much for this type of interview.  You can practice the questions, work on your manners and even work on your people skills, but you need to act natural.  Most experienced managers or executive see right through someone who is not genuine.  Being genuine and confident is important.