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Adapting to Interviewer's Communication Style

Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk into an interview and instantly connect with the person on the other side of the desk? But as many job candidates have learned, this does not always happen. Why do you hit it off immediately with some interviewers and not others? What accounts for that rapport, that chemistry? It may have to do with a factor that is often overlooked—communication . In other words, do you and your interviewer share matching communication s, or are they at odds with one another?

Since many of us usually don’t give much thought to how we communicate, a logical question would be if matching an interviewer’s communication matters. The answer is yes. Whether we realize it or not, we all gravitate toward those who think, act and communicate the way we do and tend to pull away from those who don’t. An interview situation is no different. That’s why gaining insight into both your and the interviewer’s communication gives you the advantage of being able to adjust to an interviewer’s rhythm while communicating your strengths—which can have a significant impact at your next interview.

The Four Styles
While we all fluctuate from one communication to the next depending on the situation (or possess some traits from each group), most of us exhibit predominant traits that land us in one of four categories: amiable, analytical, driver and expressive. There is no right or wrong . How we express ourselves is highly individual. The key is to be able to recognize these s in ourselves and others and to adjust accordingly when a situation calls for it.

Amiable
Cooperative, friendly, personable. Supportive and encouraging in an interview. Dislike dealing with cold hard facts. Warm facial expression; smile a lot.

Pros: Good listeners who usually go out of their way to put one at ease. Sensitive to other people’s feelings.

Cons: Not particularly assertive and prefer to avoid confrontations. Can be seen as indecisive; if this is not your , you may lose patience.

Sample Question: “Why are you the best candidate for this job?” (Nonthreatening question that gives the job candidate a chance to impress)

Think of: HR managers and those in the helping professions, such as nurses and therapists

Analytical
Driven by facts and data rather than feelings. A “let’s-get-down-to-business” attitude. Organized, detail-oriented and logical. Show little facial expressions or emotions.

Pros: Good problem solvers who enjoy investigating something and coming up with a solution.

Cons: Because of their businesslike mien, they can come across as cold and overly formal during interviews.

Sample Question: “How much did your efforts contribute to your company’s bottom line?” (Focus on facts and figures)

Think of: engineers, scientists, IT specialists, accountants

Driver
Results-oriented, to the point. Interested in achievements. High on the assertive scale; low on the emotional scale. As the name indicates, a Driver wants to know where you are going and how you intend to get there. A forceful and brisk speaker with a personality to match.

Pros: High achievers and risk takers who do not hesitate to take charge and make decisions on the spot. Expect the best from themselves and those around them.

Cons: Their fast-paced method means they often cut you off in the middle of a sentence, which can be intimidating during an interview. Plus, their hard-driving nature may not work for everyone.

Sample Question: “What did you achieve in your last job?” (Cut to the chase—what have you done?)

Think of: CEOs, lawyers, surgeons

Expressive
Outgoing, persuasive, enthusiastic. Highly assertive and emotional and the most personable—and personal—out of the bunch. Tend to make decisions based on gut feelings rather than facts and figures. Animated and use a lot of hand and arm gestures when speaking.

Pros: Creative, friendly individuals who are usually great communicators. Enjoy helping others. An interview with someone in this category promises not to be dull!

Cons: Can be viewed as impulsive, overly dramatic and opinionated, even egotistical. Can be overwhelming to some.

Sample Question: “What was your relationship like with your previous manager?” (Show interest in your relationship with others; people oriented)

Think of: sales managers, trainers, PR practitioners

The Next Step
Before your next interview, think about some of your accomplishments and how you can tailor them in an interview based on each communication . This does not mean wrongfully misrepresenting your credentials; rather, it means thinking ahead of time how to organize and communicate your experience and value so they will resonate with your interviewer.

For example, knowing that a Driver tends to move from one question to another rather quickly, keep your answers to the point. Don’t ramble (this is not the person to relate a long story to). The Driver is concerned about results, so include as many achievements as possible and stress your ability to get things done. Talk about innovative solutions you have implemented and any performance benchmark you have established. Drivers are not concerned with feelings, so avoid statements like “I feel that....”

An Expressive, on the other hand, is the opposite. This person will want you to elaborate and engage in small talk, so patience and participation on your part are a virtue, even if you are a “get-to-the-point” type of person. Relationships mean a lot to an Expressive, so promote your skills and talent in collaborating with others. Talk about how you or your department supports other departments. Expressives are typically very verbal, so a “yes” or “no” response will not get you far in the interview.

Somewhere in between falls the Amiable. This person is not as effusive as an Expressive or as hard-driving as a Driver. The Amiable communication may be the most difficult to connect with—how can you convey friendliness and competency without overdoing it? Appeal to an Amiable’s Expressive side by accentuating your success in working with diverse teams. But be sure to also bring up your achievements, and if you can do so in a way that involves relationship building (e.g., “I’m careful to include others in any decision-making process”), so much the better.

The Analytical has more in common with the Driver because this person is also interested in results, especially as they pertain to fact and figures. Here is where quantifying your accomplishments can really make a difference: “I increased sales by 30%” or “Production shot up 30% under my watch.” Avoid ambiguous language like “about” or “approximately.” The more precise you are, the better. Steer clear of asides and emotional outpourings—they do not appeal to logical and systematic Analytical.

What it boils down to is that we all have different communication s and that goes for interviewers as well. Some prefer longer, more analytical responses while others want you to just cut to the chase. Going into interviews thinking you can reply in the same fashion for each interview can be detrimental to your job search. Just as you should tailor your resume for each job, you want to adjust to each interviewer’s communication as well.

The Final Word: How FPC Can Help
One of the many benefits of working with an FPC recruiter is the chance to participate in the briefing process that occurs between a recruiter and a job candidate prior to an interview. The process includes role-playing interviews, in which the FPC recruiter plays the role of the interviewer and gauges your responses. Because FPC recruiters have close relationships with their corporate clients, they can provide insight into a hiring manager’s preferred method of communication and offer valuable tips on how you can organize and communicate your answers so they resonate with the hiring manager. After all, if you go into an interview prepared to speak your interviewer’s language, you are more likely to put that person at ease about your qualifications and live up to the expected standards—which can also dramatically improve your chance of getting that job.
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