In interviews, when you know you’re being judged on what you do, what you say, and how you look, it’s understandable to get self-conscious and do all that you can to put your best foot forward. However, there’s a balance that needs to be found between coming across as likable and wasting energy on trying too hard to be liked.
To that end, below are some key points that will help clarify not only what ‘likeable’ means but also how to appropriately exude likability while staying authentic and real.
1. Why are you trying to be more likable in the first place?
First, it's important to ask: Why is likable a quality that you want to exude and what would being likable really achieve? The most obvious answer in this context is you want to land the job. Likable = better chances at getting hired, right? Correct.
In addition, humans have a natural need for acceptance and to feel a sense of belonging. So being likable is a character trait most of us are hoping to have and express. In other words, it's more than okay to try to likable. It's natural and good in the context of a job interview. So don't get down on yourself for trying to be more likable.
2. What does being likable mean to you?
It’s also important to ask yourself: What does likable mean to me? Do I want to appear confident and self-assured? Or do I want to appear compassionate and relatable?
These are two very different sets of characteristics, and both could be liked by the hiring manager depending on the role you're interviewing for.
No matter what you think it means, when you’re clear on what likable means to you, then you can tailor your stories and anecdotes when speaking with hiring managers, highlighting those qualities that you want to stand out and be remembered.
3. Are you trying to be likable to the right people?
Have you ever met someone and no matter what you said to them, no matter how hard you tried, you felt awkward and like you said something wrong?
If so, remember that the people who take more energy and patience to communicate with are possibly the kinds of people that you’re wasting your time on. You’ll know that your energy is worth it if, when speaking with someone, the conversation feels good, and enhances your mood and mindset.
Of course, you won't get along with everyone; not everyone will like you, and that's okay. As my dad used to say, “There's not a single person in the world that EVERY single human likes, and if there were, that person would be very boring.”
So save yourself for the people who offer value back to you and with whom communication is easy. Never forget that just like it's natural to want to be likable, it's natural that not everyone you interview with will find you likable.
A final note
Ultimately, you can’t control what people think of you and how much they like you. And trying to be more likable, however you define it, is okay. But pretending or trying to impress the wrong people won’t work for the long term.
I have a saying that I live my life by: “You can never say anything right to the wrong people, and you can never say anything wrong to the right people.”
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their dream jobs and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). Get started by downloading her free guide: The Ultimate Situational Interview Q & A Guide.
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