Ace the Job Interview
When it comes to optimizing your resume for job hunting, the tools for improvement are well established. Sharp formatting helps, and then success is mostly a matter of leveraging keywords and the job description.
But what about the interview part? What are you supposed to do there? While there are no magic words, researchers looked at 63 studies on job interviews published within the last 70 years. The studies involved 4,868 participants, and looked at non-verbal signals (sorta like body language). That is, researchers looked at signals that would hold across a variety of candidates for a variety of fields. The most important non-verbal features in interviewees (as ranked) were:
- Professional appearance
- Eye contact
- Head movement
These features were persistently relevant in job interviews, regardless of whether the format was face-to-face or remote, and whether the interview was brief or long. The collection of literature also noticed stronger effects for non-verbal signals from women than men, perhaps because of gender-role expectations.
And while appearances might be a shallow consideration, it might be a good idea to keep the big three on the radar.
Speaking Without Words: A Meta-analysis of Over 70 years of Research on the Power of Nonverbal Cues in Job Interviews – Michelle P. Martín-Raugh, Harrison J. Kell, Jason G. Randall, Cristina Anguiano-Carrasco and Justin T. Banfi, Journal of Organizational Behavior
Even the hardest worker can find that energy wanes during the day.
Researchers studied 135 office workers over a two-week period to figure out the science behind work motivation and the conditions that might slow us down. Participants were asked, three times each day, to complete a short survey about the sorts of tasks they were doing. Examples of survey prompts might include assessing whether the following statements were true: “This morning, I did not like what had to be done.” or “This afternoon, I adequately completed assigned duties.”
Researchers found that working on “aversive” tasks in the morning tends to destroy motivation in the afternoon. That is, workers who tended to approach the workday from a worst-first perspective, lost motivation by mid day.
…Unless there was a reward. Researchers also found that it was helpful when employees had the power to issue themselves a little reward for completing an unlikable project – like a snack or social engagement. Employees who gave themselves rewards for addressing the yuck issues tended to stay more motivated through the day.
The other approach that enhanced afternoon motivation was an organizing activity. Employees who spent a little time at mid-day on organizing tasks for the afternoon tended to stay more motivated.
Recenter, refocus, move on.
More than a Muscle: How Self-Control Motivation, Depletion, and Self-Regulation Strategies Impact Task Performance – Wilken Wehrt, Anne Casper and Sabine Sonnentag, Journal of Organizational Behavior
How I Think You Think
Some workplaces are collections of equals. Other workplaces have hierarchies where some players are seen as more important. And yet other workplaces are collections of equals where some players think other players see themselves as more important.
And in terms of team building, that perception of power imbalance where none exists can be deadly. Researchers asked 190 professionals to report their profession, list the stereotypes associated with their profession, and then reflect on whether their colleagues rely on those stereotypes to generate negative views.
As one might guess, in many cases, professionals thought colleagues harbored negative stereotypes about their profession. And this in turn fueled “counterproductive work behavior,” which was defined in terms of actions like avoiding work, impeding progress and complaining.
How to resolve the problem? Well, the research team suggests hosting direct conversations about entrenched hierarchies in the workplace.
What do they Think of Me? Professional Diversity, Meta-stereotype Negativity, Suspicion, and Counterproductive Work Behaviour – Rebecca Mitchell, Jun Gu and Brendan Boyle, Human Resource Management Journal