Job Hunters: Why The Mirroring Thing Won’t Work



With one out of six men aged 25-54 unable to find jobs and countless others under-employed, the average American workweek is on 34.5 hours. So many job seekers are panicking to find ways to get a job.

That includes using a technique to mirror the demeanor of interviewers.

However, psychological research confirms the people-pleasing tactic of  mimicking interviewers – in posture or gestures – is a bad idea. Don’t copycat the interviewer. Your reputation will suffer.

Shocked At The Man In The Mirror (http://www.public-domain.zorger.com)

Mirroring is an unproductive strategy, especially in front of two or more interviewers. That’s the advice from a 2011 University of California, San Diego study.

“Mimicry is a crucial part of social intelligence,” says the study’s co-author, psychological scientist Piotr Winkielman in a press statement. “But it is not enough to simply know how to mimic. It’s also important to know when and when not to.”

His research colleagues included psychological scientist Liam Kavanagh, and philosophers Chris Suhler and Patricia Churchland.

They conducted videotaped experiments of interviews. As a result, observers concluded the interviewees were incompetent, untrustworthy and unlikable.

Professor Winkielman acknowledges mimicry is considered acceptable in certain social settings. But not in the workplace.

Professor Winkielman acknowledges mimicry is considered acceptable in certain social settings. But not in the workplace.

“…it’s good to have the capacity to mimic, but an important part of social intelligence is knowing how to deploy this capacity in a selective, intelligent, context-dependent manner,” he explains. “Sometimes the socially intelligent thing to do is not to imitate.”

For job hunters, here are seven key traits:

  • Research your prospective employer
  • Be transparent in your answers
  • Demonstrate value, and in some situations remember employers want critical thinkers
  • Show your soft skills, and flexibility
  • Act with confidence, including strong eye contact
  • Dress professionally
  • Smile

From the Coach’s Corner, here are five job-hunting resource links: 

Discouraged in Job Hunting? Powerful Tips for the Best Job — Whether unemployed or under-employed, a person needs two things: A sense of hope and the right tools to negotiate a job. Here are both.

Job Hunting? Tips to Land Your Dream Job with Style, Substance — Yes, the competition for jobs is ferocious. Unless you’re in accounting, healthcare, mechanical-repair or proficient in sales, good jobs are hard to find. Hopefully, you’ve honed your networking skills and are getting interviews. But there are tips to considers.

Study: Best Way to Get a Job Isn’t by Networking — Job experience counts more than whom you know, according to a nationwide survey of job hunters by Beyond.com. Networking with contacts was cited as most-important by fewer than 20 percent of the respondents.

Career Advice — An Alternative to Applying for Jobs Online — As a job-hunter you know that a significant number of companies, nonprofits and public-sector agencies use an online tracking system to accept applications and screen out applicants. It cuts down on their paper work and saves them time. If you must apply for jobs online, you can take steps to stand out from the competing applicants to sail through human-resources filtering systems.

Multiple Job Offers? Ask the Right Questions to Win in Your Career — The words every job seeker wants to hear: “We want you.” You’re no exception. You’ve been on a nerve-racking job hunt, and at long last the search is over. Suddenly, you’ve got choices — several companies have said “We want to hire you.” It’s an enviable situation, but now your real work begins.

“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure.”

Norman Vincent Peale

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.