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These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For: The Power of Persuasion in an Interview

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by Mark Smith

over 2 years ago

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Yet another Star Wars film is heading our way, and I was delighted to be able to buy a new T-shirt the other day with some droids and Obi Wan Kenobi's famous words, 'These aren't the droids you're looking for.' Don't know what I am talking about? Refresh your memory. Not only does it bring back memories, but it made me think about how using persuasion techniques in business, and more specifically for recruiters and employers in interviews, can be a powerful tool. Here is a list of six tips based on the work of Robert Ciadini and his book, Tapping Powers of Persuasion.

Reciprocity: We inherently want to return favours

In its simplest form, this is where you give something, creating a sense of indebtedness which will incline the person to give something back as a favour. This is not a new concept, and you probably have used it yourself generally in life. For an interview, remember that what you give does not have to be tangible. In the 21st century, the sharing of information, advice and knowledge is a valuable gift, so use it in your interviews to create a sense of indebtedness.

Commitment and consistency: We strive to do and think what we profess to do and think

We all know the feeling when you have to change your position after you have committed to a particular viewpoint. It's not something we like to do. If you can get a potential employer or candidate to commit verbally to an action, the chances go up exponentially that they'll actually go ahead and do it. Once we take a stand or make a choice, we normally behave consistently with that commitment.

Social proof: We look to our peers for deciding what's acceptable and desirable

Ruth Hill from the Mindtools.com team sums this one up brilliantly: 'We're more likely to work late if others in our team are doing the same, put a tip in a jar if it already contains money, or eat in a restaurant if it's busy. Here, we're assuming that if lots of other people are doing something, then it must be OK. We're particularly susceptible to this principle when we're feeling uncertain, and we're even more likely to be influenced if the people we see seem to be similar to us. That's why commercials often use moms, not celebrities, to advertise household products.' So if you are trying to attract talent, make sure you use the stories of other people who have taken on the role and progressed their career.

Authority: If not our peers, then those in charge

Most of us have been raised to respect authority. Advertisers know that implied authority will transmit a message more effectively, and that's why your toothpaste is spruiked by a man in a white coat! In an interview situation, you want to back what you are saying with authoritative sources. It could be a reference from your CEO or a recommendation from a widely known client. It could be that you have attained awards. Similarly, if you are an employer trying to attract the best talent, make sure that those who have authority in your organisation are actively involved in the recruitment process. In the war for talent, a well placed phone call from the CEO could turn someone who is unsure about taking the opportunity.

Liking: We're easily persuaded by those we feel good about

Cialdini says that we're more likely to be influenced by people we like. When conducting or attending an interview, look for commonality between you and the other person. Be prepared also to give compliments. Oh, and smile!

Scarcity: We desire what is rare

It is true that we all tend to value and want things when they are exclusive or hard to find, and, according to Cialdini, we especially desire opportunities that are limited in number or restricted by time. In the recruitment process, there is scarcity on both sides. There is the exclusivity of the job or vacancy itself, and there is the scarcity of talent to fill the role. Communicating this scarcity, whether you are the candidate or the employer, can be very persuasive. So now you too can use the old Jedi mind trick to get the edge in the recruitment process.

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