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Play it “Close to the Vest” – Avoid These Psychological Tells in Your Next Interview

February 2nd, 2012

Are you completely prepared for your next interview?

If you answered “Yes,” you definitely need to hear about this article.

According to a recent CBS MoneyWatch article by Robert Pagliarini, the typical job seeker is woefully unprepared for his next interview – and doesn’t even know it.  Despite conducting his research, rehearsing answers to tough interview questions and perfecting his 30-second “personal sales pitch,” the average job hunter commonly overlooks one critical element – psychological tells.

So, what’s a psychological tell?  Simply put, it’s the hidden tendencies, issues and mental roadblocks an individual inadvertently exposes during an interview.  Stemming from cognitive distortions – the limiting or weak habits of thinking that prevent someone from seeing things as they really are – psychological tells can undermine personal growth and success.  Ultimately, negative psychological tells can cost a candidate the job.

When you head into your next interview, make sure you’re fully prepared.  Appear confident and project a positive attitude by avoiding these cognitive distortions that lead to negative psychological tells:

  1. Fallacy of Fairness:  Do you feel angry and frustrated because you think you know what’s fair, but life and other people won’t agree with you?  If so, it can cause you to sound like a whiny complainer:  “I worked hard for my last employer for three years – and I still got laid off.”  The reality?  The employer may have been forced to downsize because of the economy.
  2. Filtering:  Do you see the world through a special filter that highlights negative details and filters out the positive ones?  If so, it can portray you as an inherently pessimistic person:  “When my last company went out of business, it was a disaster.  I should’ve jumped ship before being taken down with it.”  The reality?  The company may have gone out of business, but you should also point out the positive things you took away from an otherwise negative experience.
  3. External Control Fallacy:  Do you view your behavior and success as something that is beyond your control (i.e., generated by something outside yourself)?  If so, it can make you sound like a helpless victim of fate and circumstance:  “I wanted to go back and get my degree, but there was nothing I could do.”  The reality?  Nobody wants to hire someone who believes he has no responsibility for his own life choices.
  4. Always Being Right:  Will you go to any length to demonstrate why you’re right?  If so, it can portray you as single-minded and lacking mental flexibility:  “Even though we lost the account, there is nothing I would have done differently.”  The reality?  You should admit your mistakes, instead of minimizing them or suggesting you don’t make any.  None of us is perfect, and a smart employer will not hire someone who claims to be.

Want to learn more?  Follow this link to the full article.

The truth is, it can be difficult to recognize these cognitive distortions (and the psychological tells they lead to) in ourselves.  But without knowing it, we all communicate our deep psychological beliefs, attitudes and weaknesses every time we open our mouths.  The trick is to learn how to control the messages we send when interviewing.

So if you suspect mental roadblocks like these my be hindering you in an interview situation, ask a trusted friend for his honest opinion.  Try to determine where your negative or faulty thinking stems from, and then practice more positive approaches to explaining career difficulties.  Bottom line, it’s better to identify and correct your thinking now than miss out on job opportunities down the road.

As a leading Central and Southern Pennsylvania employment agency, Berks & Beyond can help you sharpen your interview skills and ultimately land a great temporary, temp-to-hire or direct hire position with leading employers in Berks County and beyond.  Contact a Recruiter today to learn more or Search Jobs in Southern and Central Pennsylvania.

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