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by Lucy McCarraher & Annabel Shaw


How to Get That Job - The Science of Persuasion

Professor Robert Cialini’s work on the psychology of persuasion* is ..well, it’s very persuasive. Cialini is a renowned expert in the field and his work has had an enormous influence on the way in which we think about persuasion; he has turned what we thought was the art of persuasion into the science of persuasion. He’s the one who persuaded us to re-use our hotel towels instead of having them fresh every day, by placing a card in the bathroom asking us to think of the environment. He has worked on climate change and green issues at the highest levels in an effort to effect change that lasts. If there’s a book that needs reading it’s his.

Here’s a piece of advice he offers to those wanting to do well in a job interview. I’ve taken this excerpt from an interview he conducted with The American Pychological Association.

He begins by talking about the importance of consistency as a good weapon of influence in job-hunting — the idea being that if you make a public statement, there are strong pressures to remain consistent with that statement. Here is his example;

Let’s say you’ve got a job interview, and you know that you’re among a variety of candidates. What you could do - to stand out from the crowd, as well as harness the consistency principle - is to say something like,

“I’m very pleased to be here, and I look forward to giving you all the information you’d need to know about me, but before we begin, would you mind telling me why it is that you selected me to interview?”

And then let them speak. Let them, in a public, active way, describe your plusses. And they will spend much of the rest of the interview validating what they have on record as having valued about you, because people want to stay consistent with what they’ve previously claimed.

How interesting is that? Mind you - I’d probably find it a little intimidating. But I’m sure with a little tweeking the principle could be altered to fit my particular personality (shy and a bit nervous in the interview situation).

* Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Another interesting piece of research that might be useful when you go for an interview is the question addressed by Stewart et al.,*  

How much does a firm handshake matter during a job interview? 
The authors examined how an applicant's handshake influences hiring recommendations formed during the job interview. A sample of 98 students (Ok, so students are a breed apart, but lets pretend they're just like you and me  - once were, perhaps?) provided personality measures and participated in mock interviews during which the students were given ratings of employment suitability. Five trained raters independently evaluated the quality of the handshake for each participant. 

Quality of handshake was related to interviewer hiring recommendations - even after controlling for differences in physical appearance and dress. Although women received lower ratings for the handshake, they did not on average receive lower assessments of job suitability. Results suggest that the relationship between a firm handshake and interview ratings may be stronger for women than for men. Well that's interesting I thought (but I'm not saying why I thought it interesting.)                                         

*Exploring the handshake in employment interviews. from Journal of Applied Psychology - Vol 94, Iss 6 by Stewart, Greg L.; Dustin, Susan L.; Barrick, Murray R.; Darnold, Todd C.

post by Annabel

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