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8 Mind Games That Recruiters Play During Interviews

An interviewer usually applies a lot of strategies to learn about the real personality of a candidate during an interview, however, not everyone can detect that. This is the secret that helps them find talents and is also the most efficient way to shortlist their options.

In the book “Hiring for Attitude”, author Mark Murphy has revealed the mind tricks that recruiters usually use during interviews and the following are some of the significant ones.  

1. They would create an awkward silence just for you to start talking

Silence during a conversation is very conventional but bringing someone into a stressful state – such as in a job interview, while creating an uncomfortable atmosphere clearly is a wise strategy of the recruiters.

According to Murphy, upon being faced with awkward silence, the candidates would try to speak as much as possible so that they would not seem so passive and be judged poorly by the recruiters. However, during times like those, you are revealing your true personality which is exactly what they want.

2. They would ask some questions about your past employers

By asking the candidates about their previous employers, the recruiters actually want to turn on your “honesty mode” and this is a psychology trick that proves to be really efficient.

Murphy also shared that the recruiters would most likely ask candidates to spell the names of their former bosses (especially if the employer was recorded as a foreigner in your profile) or ask a few related questions that no one would have expected. If you start to receive these kinds of questions, you should be careful with your answers.

3. They would ask vaguely to see how you answer to such questions

If a recruiter asks you to talk about a time that you faced a difficult situation but does not ask specifically about how you overcame it then it means that they are trying to assess how you answer the question: specifically whether you are someone who likes reciting (a Problem Bringer in other words), or someone whose answer emphasizes how the situation was solved (or a Problem Solver).

4. They would judge your use of pronouns

The pronouns that you use while answering to questions during the interview are extremely important. For example:

First person (I, me, we): According to a survey, candidates who are confident and potential usually answer questions using the first person 60 percent more than usual candidates.

Second person (you, your): Candidates who lack confidence use such pronouns 400 percent more than the high-performing ones.

Third person (he, she, they): Candidates who lack confidence use such pronouns 90 percent more than the high-performing ones.

Other pronouns (It, itself): These are the pronouns that you must restrain from using during interviews. However, it is the candidates who lack confidence to use such pronouns 90 percent more than the high-performing ones.

5. They would listen carefully to how you use the adverbs

According to Murphy, candidates who are confident, smart and sharp usually get to the points when they answer questions, while using the past tense to express, without having to wonder or think too much. On the other hand, those who lack confidence or preparation take times to think about what they need to say. They will try to stall by using unnecessary adverbs to highlight details that they think are important.

Nonetheless, there is 90 percent chance that the low-performing candidates will show negativity when answering the questions, compared to the others.

6. They would see which verb tenses you use while answering questions

High-performing candidates usually use the past tense (did, used to…) 40 percent more than those who perform poorly. Low-performing candidates usually use the present and future tense more than those who performed well by 120 percent and 70 percent respectively. 

For example, upon being asked about an issue in the past by the recruiter, a high-performing candidate would say: “I used to face with a customer who had issues with the server, and unfortunately, I could not fix it before the time she demanded”, while a low-performing one would say, “At that time, I would help the customer keep calm by emphasizing that I knew more than she thought”.

If you use the future tense too frequently, the recruiters may see you as someone who only talks without doing anything, or enjoys drawing out visions and making promises without any actual actions.

7. They would try to see if you answer the questions with positive voice

The passive voice does not make as much impression as the active one, and “is usually used by someone who tries to make themselves look smart in front of other people”.

Active voice: The subject is the person carrying out the action which, in this case, is you.

Example: I usually contributed ideas when the boss suggested a new project.

Passive voice: You are trying to highlight yourself by using the subject to promote the object.

Example: My colleagues are usually instructed by me on how to brainstorm in the meeting room.

8. They would count the times you use the words “always” and “never”

Candidates who lack confidence usually use these two adverbs frequently. For example, the saying “Everyone in the office never know what they are doing and are always asking for my assistance” shows that you are not believing entirely in your capability. The recruiters would base on that to evaluate your ability. 

Source: Business Insider


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