Are You Likeable?

Are You Likeable?

by Sophie Welter,

Two people walk into an interview with equal qualifications. Jack answers every question in a cool professional manner and says just what the interviewer wants to hear. Jill however, tells a compelling story, she intuits more of the interviewer’s personality and leaves him wishing the conversation could go on at the end.

At this point the very fact that the interviewer wants to spend more time with Jill, leaves her with a distinct advantage over Jack. Why? Simply because she is better liked.

In his book, The Likeability Factor, How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams, leadership coach Tim Sanders goes so far as to say that being liked may even be more important than actual skills.

Sanders outlines for example the case of a junior employee who manages to survive several rounds of layoffs at his company simply because he was always very well liked and appreciated by his bosses. Concurrent bosses always stood up for him and even helped place him elsewhere in the organization when necessary, although people with more seniority were being let go.

“Job candidates are more successful if they’re likeable. They’re more likely to get second interviews, and more likely to get short-listed for jobs. They are also more likely to keep their jobs, both in bad times and good,” explains Sanders.

According to Sanders, there are four key criteria which play into the likeability factor:

  • friendliness: the most basic element of likeability, friendliness is the capacity to communicate positive feelings through verbal and/or nonverbal methods. It is the first factor we consider when we meet someone new and is how we form our first impression of that person.
  • relevance: this is the degree to which you can connect with the other person and find common ground (interests, wants and needs).
  • empathy: the ability to understand what another person is experiencing, and the extent of being able to relate to their situation.
  •  realness: to be able to be sincere in all of the above points, to be honest and to practice what you preach.

Linda Matias, President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers’ Association, is a career expert who has also written about the importance of likeability. According to Matias, the majority of hiring decisions are based on a candidate’s level of likeability. In an interview situation, the challenge is the following: you must not only demonstrate your capability for doing the job required, but you also have to “go a step further and impress the recruiter with your professional makeup - that is, your ability to be assertive, focused, and versatile,” says Matias. In other words, your character can be as important as your credentials.

So keep this in mind on the job or in your next interview. What you can do is always important, but the key to the corner office might just be how much people like you while you do it.

For more about Tim Sanders, visit