The Factor of Likability in the Hiring Process

How you can choose the right candidate despite some feelings you may have

If you have been interviewing dozens of candidates for a certain position over the course of the past week or so, chances are the process is becoming second nature to you and you’re eating, sleeping and breathing the same list of questions you’ve asked all of these new people each day.

Some candidates may have made you laugh, you appreciated Monday’s third candidate’s smile, Thursday’s fourth candidate actually caught you off-guard with his quick wit and ability to handle every question and then there was Friday’s third candidate. He made you wince. You found him to be abrasive, arrogant and unempathetic. But, you’re in a pickle because he also happened to have the best mix of qualifications and experience for the job.

What do you do? You’ve met someone whom you cannot stomach being at a social gathering with, let alone working with on a daily basis. However, you also know that he would be able to do the job with his hands tied behind his back and wearing a blindfold.

This isn’t always a simple situation to manage. It’s a tough call, but there are a few factors to consider before making your final decision.

What is it about the candidate that you don’t like? Does he interrupt your sentences and not let you finish your thoughts? Did he consistently cross his arms and legs to promote a power pose while you were talking about a position in the company that requires working with a team? Or was it something trivial and personal, such as he looked and talked like your ex-husband?

You certainly have options, especially if one of the other candidates was thoroughly enjoyable and still exceeded the qualifications needed for the position. But, it may be worthwhile bringing the unliked candidate back for an additional interview. In the next interview, try to loosen him up or bring in another senior manager or supervisor to help scope out the candidate’s personality. You should always give someone a second chance if you don’t like them at first. However, if the second interviewer feels the same way about the candidate’s personality, chances are you should stick with someone else.

The bottom line: Sometimes you just don’t click with people, and that’s fine. That’s human. However, you’ll need to make the best decision for your company, not for you. If you can’t see this candidate working well on a team, then chances are he’s not the best candidate for the job.

How Personal is Too Personal?

Personal questions have always been apart of the interview process, and for good reason. Personal questions can lead to learning more about the individual and how their personality is going to play in the position. That’s pivotal for many of the opportunities hiring managers are hiring for. Unfortunately, the black and white area that should be interviews can quickly turn into a dreary gray area with undefined lines. When the lines get blurred, it’s hard to tell whether or not you’ve crossed them.

Asking about a candidate’s family, for example, can help you to get answers as to whether or not they have prepared to have their children taken care of on school holidays or breaks. Asking about a candidate’s favorite sports team or hobby can break the ice and make the candidate — and yourself — more comfortable when talking to each other. For example, if you are hiring for a position in which the candidate will be closely working with a group of other employees, certain personal questions can help you discover whether or not the person will fit in with the company’s work environment. But diving into certain areas can lead to discrimination allegations and worse. When you get into small talk, the answers can be just as important as those that are directly related to the job, but it can also open windows to talking about race, gender, religion and sexual preference.

These things are all cases for discrimination which an interviewee may see as the reason they’re not hired. When asking personal questions, it’s pivotal to word them in a way that is not going to lead to an answer that dictates any of these discrimination-potential details about themselves.

Personal questions can also give you an idea of how comfortable the candidate is when speaking. If they can answer the questions truthfully and still make it relevant to the position, you may just have your next employee.

Common questions you’ve probably asked hundreds of time include

  • How do you find the balance between work and home?
  • Where do you see yourself 5/10 years from now?
  • What are some of your pet peeves?
  • What would change from your past and why?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses/strengths?

All of these questions have the potential to give you not only answers about the candidate’s personal life and goals, but also how they’re going to handle some of the daily interactions they will meet in the position.

The goal with getting personal is just that — and more. You want to break the ice, you want the candidate to become comfortable talking with you so you can see their true personalities. You also want to find out how their past experiences and personal life are going to influence their work.

Making the Most of Your Current Situation

Unemployment is up, that’s a hard fact to face for many Americans who are in that position at the moment. However, many people who are currently employed are looking to further their careers by either switching companies or growing within their company. It’s a cutthroat job market, something that’s causing a lot of misery and grief.

If you’re among the group of people looking to further their career and are currently employed, you may be frustrated or unable to visualize your future. You can, however, gain more success in your current position, whether it comes with a raise, promotion or even recognition. Hard work and a little mental work can help you further yourself, which in turn makes your resume look better with the new information you’ll be able to add.

Starting in childhood, humans are told to do the best they can do. There may be no greater piece of advice for trying to make the most of your current job situation. Not living up to your potential can hurt your relationship with your co-workers, boss and customers. Not only this, but it can take a toll on your mind and body. Yes, giving that little extra bit of work and time may be frustrating, especially if you feel stuck, but it can do wonders.

Even the small things can turn the heads of people who need to notice.

  • Taking on an extra task at work once your project is finished shows your co-workers and management team that you are able and willing to take on more responsibility. Initiative comes with a hefty payout in many cases.
  • Always remembering to say “thank you” with a smile can make a customer feel more appreciated, which can lead to increased sales or repeat business.
  • Finishing your project, no matter the cost, can show management that you have what it takes to lead the team and further the business.
  • Put your work first while you’re there. It’s hard sometimes, especially with the demands of family, other engagements and, especially, wanting to get a new job, but it can be done.

Yes, you may feel stuck in your current position, but you can try and improve your working environment for you and everyone involved in the business. Once you’ve successfully improved even one aspect of your working environment, take a look and see if the improvement has led to any additional skills or experiences. When employees give that extra 10 percent and a manager notices, you may have landed yourself an excellent recommendation to a potential employer.

Bottom line: You may feel stuck, but you can still try to make your work environment a better place for all of your coworkers and even your customers. It’s worth it in the end.

10 Tips to Improve Verbal Communication in Your Job Search

This post was originally seen on Career Rocketeer and was written by Perry Newman.

Every situation you are in during a job search requires verbal communication so here are some pointers to improve your ability to communicate with others when networking, at a job fair, in a job interview etc.

1) When preparing an “elevator speech” and responses to questions you anticipate being asked during an interview carefully contemplate what you want to say and how you will say it and then consider if it is useful or useless information. Then go over it again to make sure the response is as succinct as possible in getting your point across.

2) Make an effort to know as much as possible about the background, feelings, and knowledge base of the people you speak to because the responses you get are greatly influenced by these factors.

3) During an interview, or when questioned by someone you want to network, avoid speaking in generalizations and speak directly to the question, topic or idea at hand. This will earn you more respect than trying to be evasive.

4) Be genuine. People want to know your opinions so make sure they understand what you have to say [without overkill] before yielding the floor or moving on to a new question or topic.

5) Speak clearly, pleasantly, and with confidence, and throw in a smile or two every so often to make the listener feel he or she is a part of the conversation.

6) If you’re a natural with humor don’t be afraid to use it. People are comfortable with someone who can make them chuckle. Tactful humor in the right situation is OK.

7) Listening is the key element of communication. You can’t respond appropriately if you fail to hear what the other person has to say; especially when it comes to reading the tone, nuances and body language between the lines. When someone else is speaking listen closely with the intention of grasping what they have to say without focusing your mind on formulating an immediate reply.

8) Show that you are interested in what’s being said by others. You can do this in two ways, by asking the right questions at the right time and by making regular eye contact.

9) Conversely pay attention to what you shouldn’t do. Don’t rush, interrupt, or finish the other person’s sentences, or come across as always in the right.

10) Watch your body language. Too much fidgeting, tapping your pen or fingers, eye rolling, or making exasperated faces show that you don’t care what someone is saying.

As always, I’m available to critique U.S. resumes and offer suggestions to you at no cost. You can send me an email with your current resume to

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Perry Newman CPC/CSMS is a nationally-recognized career services professional; an executive resume writer and career transition coach, certified social media strategist, AIPC certified recruiter and charter member of the Career Rocketeer team. Passionate about all things related to career management, Perry has been critiquing Career Rocketeer readers’ resumes at no cost since 2009. For a complimentary critique, email your resume to

Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Interview questionsMany interviews consist of the same questions. You’ll find that most employers use these serious of questions, not because they aren’t creative enough to think of new ones, but simply because they work – and they tell a lot about the candidate. The good thing for you, the interviewee, is that you can practice, rehearse, and have a good sense of what you will say when one of these questions is asked.

Here are some of the most frequently asked interview questions:

Tell me about yourself.

This is an opportunity to make your lasting first impression. Be sure to practice what to say here, and be able to sum up your skills, history, and experience in 2-3 minutes. You want to showcase your value right up front, keep to relevant information, and pique the interest of your interviewer.

Why did you leave your last job?

Always remember to evaluate your answers as if you were on the receiving end. What type of reasons would you want to hire someone from another company? If you heard about an argument with a co-workers or a disagreement – would that raise a red flag? Now what if you heard about downsizing or changing for a different career opportunity?

What are your strengths/weaknesses?

When asked about your strengths, here is another chance for you to shine. Think about what isn’t easily conveyed in your resume and cover letter and what adds to qualifying you for this position. As for your weaknesses, it’s okay to have a weakness, but if it doesn’t effect your ability to complete the job – even better!

Why do you want this job?

Share why you are a good fit for this job, and how your skills and experience match their requirements. If you like the company, product or service, be sure to mention that as well.

What are your career goals/where do you see yourself in five years?

Companies would like to know where you really see yourself – do you want to be in leadership, management, or another position? Be sure to think about longevity and loyalty with the company and avoid answers that would appear as if you had no plans on staying with the company for 5 years.

What are your salary requirements?

Hold off on answering this question for as long as possible.  This is something to address at a later time when you are closer to getting the job offer.

Do you have any questions for me?

Make sure you’ve always done your research on the company, product and/or service. The more you know about the company, the more it shows your potential employer that you are interested, you care, and you are willing to do your homework.