Game Lessons for Job Interviews

Game, or applied gender dynamics, and pick-up artistry offer great lessons for your upcoming job interview.  Many of the principles can be very successfully applied during your job search and job hunt.  Especially for experienced professionals, knowing the psychological underpinnings of status, persuasion and charm will go a long way in helping you in your career.

Here’s how.

  1. Look your best.  If you want to easily be in the top 5% of the job market, pay attention to your appearance.  Ensure you look neat, clean, with a good haircut, properly shaved or trimmed, trimmed nails, and looking like you care about yourself.  Carry good accessories like a good pen, a smart (not overly small or large or very cheap) wrist watch, and a well-fitting tie and a belt.  Understand fashion and be elegant, not flashy.  Wear a suit or a blazer, even to a workplace which advertises “casual dress code”.  Wear well-fitted clothes.  Stand out as someone who puts in effort toward how he looks.  People immediately and subconsciously respect a man who dresses well.  It also instantly makes you feel confident and ready to take on the world.
  2. Be fit.  Most people pay little attention to their health in their 20s and 30s.  Don’t be one of them.  Regular exercise, good posture and eating well helps you look great as well as keeps your mind active and sharp.  Most jobs these days are sedentary.  You will immediately stand out from others if you are active, agile and full of energy.  You will also be able to go through marathon multi-hour interview sessions without getting exhausted.
  3. Display confidence, not arroganceDuring your interviews and conversations with the hiring team, be confident without sounding arrogant.  Confidence comes from a healthy self-image, self-awareness, knowledge of most people’s insecurities, acceptance of reality, a curious and learning attitude toward life, and being comfortable with your strengths and possible shortcomings.  Don’t be apologetic about yourself.  If you don’t know something, express confidence and enthusiasm that you will learn.  Don’t fib or exaggerate.  People can easily detect if you are fake and are trying to impress.  Don’t try too hard to please others.  Talk about yourself in a way that showcases your authenticity, growth over time, and your optimism about your life and your future.  Look in the other person’s eyes.  Keep your shoulders back.  Don’t fidget.
  4. Assume the sale.  Every job interview is a process of marketing and selling yourself.  Go into an interview with the assumption that you will get the job.  That kind of positive thinking and affirmation will do wonders for your performance.  That assumption can’t be faked.  You can only feel it inwardly if you are well-prepared, have done your research, and are able to confidently and truthfully feel that you are a great candidate for the job.  Marketing is often considered to be tantamount to lying, but think of it as a process of convincing and persuasion.  You don’t have to tell lies, but you have to tell your story in a way that highlights your abilities and value.  Be clear in yourself why you think you are a great person for the job, and be ready to answer when asked.
  5. Control the frame (be the chased, not the chaser)It is almost too easy to direct a conversation toward your areas of strengths.  Almost every interview begins with general questions.  Repeatedly mention your strengths.  When answering a question, weave in your experience and skills in a way that makes the other curious to ask you about things that you feel most confident about.  Once you feel that the conversation in going in the right direction, flip the frame a bit and make the interviewer try to convince you that you should join their organization.  Understand that they need you as much as you need them.  Ask them questions at the end of the interview which subtly make them prove that it will be worth your while to join them.  For example, “How long have you been working here?  What are the best aspects of working here?”  Or, “What do you like most about the leader of the organization?”  Or, “How would you describe the culture here?”
  6. Build rapport.  Mirror the other person’s body language.  Speak slowly and clearly.  Use the interviewer’s name occasionally.  Show an open body posture.  Throw in a little humor once in a while and have a smiling, affable expression (which is very different from a sarcastic smirk).  Repeat the interviewer’s question to them in your own words.  Understand what is important to the interviewer and what they want to hear.  Most interviewers are not keen on conducting interviews as this takes them away from their desk job.  In the first few minutes, set the tone for the interview to be relaxed, enjoyable and conversational.  Relax your facial muscles and your body.  Be fluid and not stiff.  Before coming for the interview, if you know who is going to interview you, research the interviewer on LinkedIn or Facebook and find out what they are like and build common ground.
  7. Make the interviewer feel good.  Don’t just recite facts and figures.  Tell stories about your experiences.  Everybody loves stories.  Make the interviewer feel important and knowledgeable.  Once in a while, if they ask a good question, do say: “That is a great question.  Let me try and understand it fully.”  If they correct a mistake in your statements, say: “Thank you.  You are right!” (instead of being resentful and apologetic).  Ask them about their career and what brought them to this organization.  People love talking about themselves.  Do not interrupt them when they are going on and on about something.  End the interview on a high note, by thanking them in a way that most candidates won’t.  For example: “I know you must have taken time out from your busy day for this interview.  Thank you.  I enjoyed our conversation, and I wish you a great day ahead.”
  8. Display high value.  Your resume should stand out.  Think of ways in which it could.  There should be absolutely no grammatical or formatting errors in your resume.  Your LinkedIn profile should be stellar in its language and detail.  Try to get recommendations from your past teachers or colleagues.  Have a cover letter outlining your experience and why you are applying for this job.  Highlight your major accomplishments and learnings in your resume.  If suitable, mention high-value hobbies which show social proof: Golf, Art, Classical Music or Opera, Horse riding, etc.
  9. Have conversational dexterity.  Keep the conversation flowing.  Awkward pauses are awkward.  If the interviewer is stuck, start talking about something that you think will interest them and that will allow you to tell a story.  Talk about the industry domain.  Talk about recent events.  Ask them about the business and any recent news about the company or about a new leader who might have joined them.  Keep them engaged.  One of the worst mistakes in dating or in an interview is to be boring.  Talk about things which genuinely excite you and you will see them being charged by your excitement as well.  Don’t get into religion, politics or contentious topics.  If asked, you can always say: “It is a complex topic.  I don’t have a firm opinion about it but am curious to understand how people think about it.”
  10. Have a well-rounded personality.  Develop yourself to be socially comfortable, aware of social cues, and enough interests outside your work and home that you can engage anyone in a conversation.  More than you know, having a diverse set of interests will set you apart and make you an instantly likable fellow.  Of course, be careful that you don’t show off (that shows insecurity).  Make it seem like you would be someone the interviewer might actually want to know outside work as well.
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