How to connect with the interviewer and increase your likeability

behavoural fit interview
New answer on Jun 09, 2022
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 02, 2022

Hi all,

Recently I was in an interview, and at some points it became a bit stiff and rough when they were kind of making things difficult for me. They were continuously try to stress me by questioning my approach, nitpicking about details, …

I always try to stay cool but at a certain point it changes the vibe in the interview. How can I prevent this?

In addition, how could you instantly connect with the interviewer in a sense that they no longer try to do this to you? Like, increase your likeability. I tend to find this rather difficult, especially with more senior people.

Many thanks for the advice!

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Francesco
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replied on Jun 03, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) I always try to stay cool but at a certain point it changes the vibe in the interview. How can I prevent this?

I don’t think you really can because:

  1. They may do this on purpose to see how you react or
  2. They may just have a bad day (you may think “This is not a good reason to act like a jerk!” And you are right. But we are humans and the interviewer may not always act in the best possible way )

2) How could you instantly connect with the interviewer in a sense that they no longer try to do this to you?

The best way to connect is to relate to something you both share at the beginning of the interview.

Think about it. If you meet someone new, when do you connect with them? When you share something with them (eg common experiences or interests).

This is difficult to engineer or develop quickly, in particular if you have only a few minutes at the beginning of an interview. The best way to learn this is to work in sales (even just with an internship). I learned this the hard way doing door-to-door sales for my first company (it was not fun, but learned a ton).

If you are at the beginning of your career, I honestly believe an internship in any sales department could be one of the best investments to learn how to connect with people. And yes, it is not a quick fix and it is likely going to suck at the beginning (no one likes rejections) but you are going to learn something very useful for the rest of your life.

Other things you can work on are:

  1. Sound of your voice. Try to avoid (i) monotone voice and (ii) speaking too fast. The easiest way I know to learn how to speak differently is to listen to a podcast/audiobook with a speaker you like. You will “absorb” their style and start to speak in the same way without noticing in a week or so.
  2. Smiling. You probably know this already. If you smile, you are going to connect more with the person. Yes, even if your smile is fake (ok, maybe don’t make it clearly fake. But you got the point).
  3. Eye contact. You don’t need to look the interviewer in the eyes all the time – I mean, that would be weird ;) But you should not look around ALL the time, that would also be strange for the interviewer.
  4. Ability to break the ice. This is very important at the start of the interview. If you have good icebreakers, you can learn more about the person. On the other hand,  if you don't have experience with this, it is difficult to sound natural when you do so. Which is why working in sales helps so much.
  5. Posture. Avoid closed body language (eg crossing arms). Unless the interviewer is doing that. If they do show signs of closed body language, mirror them and then move to an open body language (eg hands apart) later on. Chances are, they will follow you.

I know, it is a lot of stuff. Which is why working in sales helps so much. You will learn how to apply this in a real setting (by doing several mistakes and learning step-by-step).

Besides that, do your research on the interviewer and prepare good questions for him/her in advance to ask at the end – this is something they will appreciate.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Florian
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replied on Jun 03, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

Some very good answers here already.

I would just like to add my 2 cents to change your perspective.

See it as a game.

When interviewers try to stress you during the interview or are not friendly, 95% of the time it is a pressure test to see how you are reacting to it. Play along, just as you would in a daily life situation when dealing with a difficult person.

  • Stay confident and calm
  • Stick to your case habits
  • Stand your ground (unless you really made a mistake and they are pointing it out)
  • Keep your friendly attitude 

Increasing your likability would not have any impact on their interviewing style and behavior.

And what now for the remaining 5% who are just unprofessional and conduct the interview badly because they have a bad day or personality? 

The same approach.

Focus on what you can do to solve the case in a confident, calm, and constructive manner.

If the interview experience is really bad (e.g., insulting, poor setting with bad connection, et.c), I would definitely raise it with HR.

Cheers,

Florian 

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Ian
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replied on Jun 02, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

So, first of all, there is no amount of “increasing likeability” that will change this! This is simply their interview style.

I always train my candidates to be prepared for anything. The interview may be 10 minutes or 100 minutes. The interview may interrupt every word or say nothing the whole time.

Worry less about likeability (trying too hard is “obvious” and defeats the purpose) and worry more just about being yourself (in a professional way).

In terms of keeping your cool, you need practice. Get a friend (or ideally a coach) to pressure test you.

Most of my candidates say “wow, the interviewer was so much easier than you”. That's the point! Train for a marathon at a high altitude so that at sea level it's a breeze!

In the moment, the way to keep your cool is to remember that it's all a test. They're seeing if you can handle pressure (which will be 10x in the real job). Remind yourself that, you have two options: Keep your cool/calm and succeed, or panic and fail. It's that simple!

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Kurt
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replied on Jun 02, 2022
Conducted over 100 interviews for grads, interns & experienced hires

Great question!

I would suggest a different approach. The danger of focusing on getting your interviewer to like you as that you can come across as inauthentic and the reality is you aren't going to instantly connect with everyone. Whether you connect with your interviewer or not will be mostly down to luck.

The interviewer is there to assess your skills and suitability for the role and even though it helps to connect on a personal level, it is not necessary in order to pass the interview. 

Even in fit or behavioral interviews, interviewers are reminded by their firms that they are focused on assessing whether your skills, professional background and values fit with the firm, not whether they connect with you on a personal level. In a world where these firms are trying to achieve greater diversity, ‘connection’ (which often happens based on shared demographics) can no longer be a fair judge of someone's suitability for the role.

The other thing to consider is that often interviewers will deliberately be unpleasant and challenging to mimic difficult client situations and test how you work under pressure. Remaining calm, confident and not reactive is critical in these types of interviews and the less you are concerned about whether your interviewer ‘likes’ you the easier this will be.

Hope this is helpful for you!

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Lucie
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replied on Jun 03, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 


I would not focus on likeability, the MBB interview tests how well you will work on projects solving the toughest problems in extremally short timelines with a very different types of people. It is not about "making it difficult for you", it is about proving you are the 1% of the candidate that makes it in. 


it is important to prepare well for your interview, test your stories, answer different types and versions of the questions and mock it in a more stressful environment (working and mocking with the coach gets pretty close to the real interview feeling based on my coachees' feedback). You need to feel comfortable and self-confident about what you bring to the game. This is what I focus on working my candidates

Good luck with the process!
Lucie
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Cristian
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replied on Jun 03, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

One thing to bear in mind is that with an interviewer that is role-playing and ‘acting’ like an unfriendly client, there's nothing that you can do to make them ‘friendly’ all of a sudden. They will stay in the role. The objective is rather for you to get all the info that you need and achieve your objectives, despite their attitude, i.e., the attitude is not what needs fixing. 

Aside from this, in terms of what you can do to have a better connection, try some of the following:

  • Be curious and ask them genuine questions about themselves and their experience. Be genuine interested in who they are and what they
  • Smile and maintain a confident posture
  • Don't interrupt them
  • Speak in a calm, relaxing tone
  • Mirror their body language

Best,

Cristian

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Clara
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replied on Jun 09, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To add on top of the great answers shared here before: you cannot really prevent that from happening. Sometimes that mood is precisely what you look for as an interviewer, to test you under that stress. 

 

Cheers, 

Clara

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Adi
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replied on Jun 05, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience
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Ken
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updated an answer on Jun 06, 2022
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

Consulting is all about iteration and challenging the details and so I would say it has nothing to do with likeability.  You are a likeable candidate if you can bring meaningful insights to a challenging problem (i.e., I want this person on my team TODAY!).

(edited)

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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