Mirroring and Interview Preparation

How to Do It, Instill Confidence and Get Hired


By Zipline Career Team • April 13, 2018

In a prior post, we discussed the ways in which you can signal to employers your ability to fit within their culture and company ethos.

At the very least, those tips give you the ability to present the kind of person that company and its staff members would like to see.  Yet, those tips are generally useful in your pre-application period and interview preparation stage.

However, here we’ll detail Mirroring interview techniques that you can use on-the-fly for interview questions with your potential new employer.  Whether you need new interview skills, or just want an extra leg up, this post is for you.

Let’s get two things clear about what you need to accomplish in your job interviews.

First, to be a great practitioner of Mirroring, you need to get the person in front of you to say, “This person is like me.”  It leads to a connection that will get you the job.

Second, people are weird, and you’re going to need to adapt constantly.  This includes dealing with interviewers, HR managers and your potential new co-workers and bosses.

They all have strange and perplexing traits of all kinds that they’re often unaware of.  This generally doesn’t make them bad or good, just different.  However, this is what makes the task difficult, but also worthwhile if you can accomplish good Mirroring.

So, how do you deal with these peculiarities when you’re trying to make a good first impression?

Imitate it.  Copy their behavior like you’re a mirror in front of them.

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  So flatter, compliment, and praise the hell out of them with their own actions.

But, DO NOT mock, embarrass or make them uncomfortable.  Because that will make them say, “This person isn’t like me, or doesn’t share my values.” Because what interviewer will admit to you when they act like an asshole?

This is the game.

Think of your behavior as being a blank slate at the beginning of the interview and only dictated by what your interviewer does. All you’re allowed to do is say “Hello” and firmly shake their hand(s).  Maybe, if you’re really uncomfortable, you could make small talk.

After that, you need “their permission” before you add new behaviors into your repertoire.  If they are stern and dry in tone, you stay stern and dry in your behavior.  If they tell a joke and laugh, laugh with them and perhaps tell a joke of your own (but be careful not to be inappropriate).

Check out these examples:

  • Non-Verbal Cues & Body Language

Body Language says it all.  If your interviewer checks their phone during the interview, it goes without saying they don’t care much for you.  Short of this disaster, ask yourself, “What is this person physically doing in front of me?”  Are they motioning a lot with their hands when they talk?  Or, do their hands remain tightly clasped in one position? Do they make aggressive eye-contact? Are their legs crossed, or are they straight up man-spreading?  Whatever it is, copy it.  Do it with subtlety and grace.

  • Language & Metaphors

Some people appreciate an analogy or flowery language, and others don’t.  Be aware of what your interviewer is doing.  Are they comparing their employees to a football team (e.g. who plays the role of Quarterback, etc.)?  Then you’ve found someone who might appreciate a similar analogy or football talk.  If not, don’t go there.

  • Topics of Discussion

Building off the last point, a lot of people don’t want to hear your how you work to fix your uncle’s boat on the weekend.  Perhaps, if they express an interest in boats, then you can pipe up.  Otherwise, stick to what they give you. Do they want to talk about new company goals and initiatives?  Ask questions about the goals and initiatives and then demonstrate how you’ve accomplished similar initiatives elsewhere.

  • Pace, Intensity & Sound Level

Are you quickly led to a large conference room to interview?  Then, you’d better speed walk like it’s the Olympics. Does your interviewer speak extremely fast? Now’s the time to practice that auctioneer talent of yours. Moreover, it’s important to match the sound level of you interlocutor.  If they have a mousey quiet voice, it’s best not to raise your voice or show off your best guffaw.  The point is that you need to adjust whether it’s the tone or physical setting that you’re asked to adapt to.

All this really comes down to peoples’ various mannerisms, what behavior they find acceptable and appropriate, and how they respond to your behavior.  If it seems strange, try it with a friend or acquaintance prior to an interview.

Your goal is to get them to respond positively. Because your goal is to get the person you’re speaking with to humanize you, remember you and make you stand out.  You’ve succeed at this goal when internally a little light clicks in their brain and they say, “This person is like me.”

Moreover, there are a few critical rules for these tips in order to give yourself better odds for success.

  1. Don’t Escalate Poor Behavior or Disrespect People

As tempting as it may be, don’t exacerbate bad behavior on the part of the interviewer or company.  You’ll never get anywhere if you piss people off.  It doesn’t matter how bad it is, don’t engage.  Ask to leave or resign from further interviews or correspondence if the behavior seems widespread.

  1. Don’t Get Angry or Act Inappropriate

No matter what your interviewers do, don’t take it personally and let the person or the situation get the better of you.  Shouting, insulting or other inappropriate remarks will only leave you regretfully hoping you never see those people in your working life again.  And the world is a small place.

  1. Don’t One-Up People

Again, remember you don’t want to make people uncomfortable, because then they won’t identify you as being like them.  Unless, they are the kind of person who prides themselves on making others uncomfortable.  So, aim to be like them, but not mocking, ostentatious, or completely ridiculous in your displays of their behavior.  For example, if your interviewer has a speech-impediment, copying that behavior is stupid and rude.

After that, all is fair.  In short, these processes are the best interview skills you can have.

Now, go out there and test your newfound skills.  Whether it’s a new job opportunity or your same old boss tomorrow.  We’re pulling for you.

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