“An interviewer decides on whether to hire a candidate depending on how much trust that person can garner”
I was once assigned to hunt talent for a critical regional role to manage a substantial part of our business. I sought out a few candidates and sent them across to the hiring manager for a video interview round to take a final call. I was optimistic about a candidate and almost sure that person would make it to the final. Sadly, he failed.
I was surprised to hear the reason. I got a straight answer from the interviewer, the candidate never looked him directly in the eyes! Simply put, looking away raises doubts that the person is not confident and might shroud facts. This incident brought home the fact that one may miss the opportunity to crack an interview only because their straying eyes failed to garner the trust of the interviewer.
An interviewer decides on whether to hire a candidate depending on how much trust that person can garner. Interviews are like watching a movie trailer, which are intended to intensify your craving to watch the entire movie.
The selection process goes through multiple validations before the best candidate is chosen. Sometimes the choice is not easy, especially when contenders put up a neck-to-neck fight. Here, trust plays a pivotal role. That is the deciding factor in the final decision. Years of research could not determine how trust is built. Many psychologists and NLP experts have conducted trials to map strategies to earn trust. The most recent book named ‘Trust Game’ somewhat deciphered the anatomy of trust.
They involved two sets of players. One set was given $10 each and asked to invest whatever they feel best to the other set of individuals, who played the role of businessmen. Here the promise of maximum return on capital and the ability of the businessman to raise confidence was the key. The borrower happened to convince the lender in an almost similar manner as how interviews take place. Imagine you are the businessman, and the interviewer is deciding whether to invest in you! The key is how you will ensure the interviewer is convinced of your ability to deliver on the job, to do justice to their investment in you.
I will share five strategic interventions that one needs to deal with consciously to build a level of trust. I have tried these with my community while practicing mock interviews and have seen the results. Here I will discuss everything from the perspective of virtual interview rounds.
1. Welcoming Facial Expression
Your first look, beheld for the initial 6 seconds, decides the impression you create on the interviewer. Many people maintain an emotionally neutral face or put up a fake smile. You must have met people who you connect instantaneously with a welcoming gesture. Keep your camera on at the start of the meeting and begin with a welcoming smile. Thank the interviewer for inviting you and finding you worthy of a discussion. Wearing your smile all through helps to instill familiarity.
2. Positive Eye Contact
You must have understood the importance of maintaining eye contact. There is an obvious video-conferencing faux pas – the tendency of looking down is natural and no amount of strategic laptop positioning can resolve this. We are prone to look at people on the screen rather than focus on the webcam, thereby missing that all-important opportunity to make eye contact! You may achieve this by fixing the camera at eye level by raising the base of the laptop. If you connect via phone, use a tripod. Practice looking at the lens and not at the screen, this will help you maintain the right eye contact.
“You have one opportunity to strike a chord with the interviewer while being one of the many contenders that appear before them”
3. Confident Hand Gestures
You must have felt clumsy with your hands in crucial meetings. There are many views about how aptly our hands could be used and rested. Hand gestures certainly build impact while you try to make a point. Using hands effectively in a face-to-face interaction is easier, but making it work for a video round seems difficult. People usually see up to your bust while your hands remain out of the frame. One needs to practice using hand gestures within the frame effectively. It makes the conversation more engaging, helps stress upon your views, and builds trust as people find you expressing genuinely.
4. Convincing Answering Strategy
This trick is effective even when you have the answer, pause before you respond. Decipher the connotation of the interviewer’s question well to coin the apt reply. Remember sometimes interview questions come like multiheaded spears! You need to decode the real purpose behind the question. Make sure you satisfy the query of the interviewer. Your poise, aplomb, and rational mind must reflect in every response you give. You have one opportunity to create an impression and to move towards building the trust of the interviewer.
5 Curating a Professional Ambiance
While preparing for a virtual interview, there are a few mandatory practical hacks that may play spoilsports if ignored. Start with what you wear. Imagine how you would have dressed if you were going for an in-person interview. Wear a look that you carry well.
A professional background goes a long way in creating a professional look for yourself. The best backgrounds are either single colored or an office interior. You may simply choose a background from free stock photos. There are hundreds of images available for you to use. If you are in haste, remember to blur the background before you start the meeting! Never ignore the lighting and efficiency of your internet connection. These two may cause you enough embarrassment if not dealt with beforehand. Building trust does not depend only on how you deal with an array of questions, the ambiance you create as well as your conduct play critical roles.
You have one opportunity to strike a chord with the interviewer while being one of the many contenders that appear before them. If you consider with these five strategies consciously and ensure you play it right, I am confident you will be in control of the conversation and successfully build the trust of the interviewer. Trust is the only element that steers the apex decision when the interview scores of top candidates are close. Interviews are like performing in a stage show – you cannot repeat your performance. Prepare well to make it a pleasant experience at first go and score your best!