Ace Your Job Interview Part II: How to SpeedRead and SpeedREACH Your Interviewer02 March 2022 / By Paul Tieger Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 02, 2022
In Part I of this blog, I shared some key interviewing strengths and potential blind spots for each of the sixteen types and suggested that you try to identify the one from each category that resonates most with you. Being able to capitalize on your strengths and mitigate your blind spots can make the difference between landing that great job, or not.
But it takes two to tango! And your dance partner in this metaphor is your interviewer. How similar his or her personality type is to yours plays an outsized role in how the two of you are likely to communicate and feel about each other. Of course, in an interview, it’s more important how your interviewer feels about you, than the other way around! So, your mission is to learn as much about (SpeedRead) him in order to connect (SpeedREACH) on her level, in the short amount of time you have.
My journey into SpeedReading
I developed the SpeedReading people system while working as a jury consultant for many years helping trial attorneys select and communicate with jurors in high profile civil and criminal cases. Participating in interviews with thousands of potential jurors, I was able to discover several observable clues which helped me identify either their whole Jung/Myers personality type, or key parts of it. Clues involved their language, body language, demeanor, energy level and appearance. I also developed strategies that helped my client attorneys better communicate with key players in the courtroom which included jurors, witnesses and even judges.
Over the past fifteen years, I’ve taught these techniques to thousands of individuals, managers, leaders, attorneys, healthcare professionals, educators, and others. We all know that human behavior is complex! And you won’t master these skills, just from reading this blog! But through practice, you can definitely learn new ways to size up and communicate with all of the important people in your lives – including, of course interviewers.
Due to the pandemic, most interviews are now conducted virtually. But practically all of the clues I’m about to share are equally apparent in a Zoom call as they are in person.
An important thing to keep in mind: No one is just an Extravert or Introvert, or any one of the other personality type preferences. This can make SpeedReading people more challenging, since you’ll be observing other characteristics at the same time that you’re trying to isolate a particular preference, say Introversion or Introversion. But like most skills, the more you practice, the more accurately you’ll be able to identify all or most of a person’s type.
Here are some SpeedReading Clues and SpeedREACHing tips based on individual type preferences.
But wait…there’s more!
I’ve included a “secret, double-probation” bonus, I call “radar clues” which can be quite revealing. Since deep down, we all want others to be like us, we can get annoyed when someone is not. These clues are most powerful when you and your interviewer are different on a specific type preference. For example, if you’re an Intuitive and your interviewer is giving you so many details, your eyes start to glaze over – that’s a pretty good clue she is a Sensor. Conversely, if you are a Sensor, and your interviewer’s communication style is so complex, that you’re not really understanding him – chances are he is an Intuitive. This same dynamic applies to all four personality type dimensions.
We all relate best to and communicate most effectively with people who are like us. So ideally, we want to get on the other’s wavelength and “speak their language”. But this does not necessarily mean trying to “mirror” their behavior. There is a good reason why this is a bad idea: First, it is very hard to do skillfully, and second, if not executed extremely well, it can backfire and make the other person feel uncomfortable (even if they’re not conscious of exactly why).
I’m also not suggesting that you be inauthentic and try to be someone you’re not! What I am suggesting is that we all have a range of behavior, and – especially for a short period of time (like a 30-minute interview) – we can access the less preferred aspects of our personalities, even if that means stretching a little out of our comfort zone. That said, here are the clues and tips, organized by individual type preference.
Extravert or Introvert? The Key Clue: Energy level
Most Extraverts tend to:
- Be friendly and outgoing
- Have lots of energy
- Talk a lot
- Answer questions quickly and think out loud
- Interrupt when a thought pops into their heads
Most Introverts tend to:
- Have calm energy
- Pause to think before speaking
- Be quiet and patient listeners
- Speak less and more slowly
- Prefer to focus on one thing at a time & “drill down”
If you think they are Extraverts:
- Give them plenty of time to talk (and think out loud)
- Try not to make them compete for airtime
- If possible, prepare in advance, so you can respond quickly to their questions
Radar Clue: They’re talking so much or so fast that it’s making you anxious.
If you think they are Introverts:
- Ask a question and patiently wait for their answer (which may take a while!)
- Speak slower
- Answer questions as thoroughly as you can
Radar Clue: Their pace is very slow or getting information out of them feels like pulling teeth.
Sensor or Intuitive? The Key Clue: Language
Most Sensors tend to:
- Speak in short, concise sentences
- Provide lots of facts & details
- Use a simple sentence structure
- Speak sequentially…step-by-step
- Prefer to talk about real things, rather than possibilities
Most Intuitives tend to:
- Speak in long, complex sentences
- Like words, and may have a sophisticated vocabulary
- Make Intuitive “leaps” and link ideas to one another
- Like to consider possibilities…to talk about “what could be”
- Talk “big picture” and generalities, offering few specifics
If you think they are Sensors:
- Provide enough relevant, accurate data to support your claims
- Try to simplify, rather than complicate your message
- Offer practical, and proven (if possible) solutions
Radar Clue: They are overwhelming you with details.
If you think they are Intuitives:
- Try to impress them with your creativity and originality
- Don’t overwhelm them with too many facts or details
- Anticipate that they may ask unexpected questions
Radar Clue: The discussion is very high level or seems like the ideas are too “out there’ and impractical.
Thinker or Feeler? The Key Clue: Interactions with People
Most Thinkers tend to:
- Appear calm and even-tempered
- Get down to business quickly with a minimum of small talk
- Are not especially warm, and don’t share much personal information
- Are not particularly tuned into to how you are feeling
- Use “impersonal language” such as “I think”, rather than “I feel”
Most Feelers tend to:
- Be approachable and friendly
- Express appreciation and be complimentary
- Be diplomatic and tactful
- Offer personal information and ask personal questions
- Use “value words” (wonderful, horrible, etc.) and use expressions like “I feel”
If you think they are Thinkers:
- Don’t waste their time with social niceties
- Avoid any emotional drama, or reference to it in your life
- Make any asks based purely on logic, not emotions or feelings
Radar Clue: Despite your efforts, you can’t get your interviewer to smile or show some warmth towards you.
If you think they are Feelers:
- Take time to try and establish a personal relationship
- Be helpful and cooperative; don’t argue or engage in any kind of conflict
- Ask how they are doing (or feeling if that is appropriate)
Radar Clue: They seem overly friendly or share personal information too freely.
Judger or Perceiver? How They Approach Life
Most Judgers tend to:
- Have a serious, no-nonsense demeanor
- Be time-conscious and are almost always punctual
- Be prepared and like to plan next steps
- Make more statements, than ask questions
- Have a neat, “put together” appearance
Most Perceivers tend to:
- Have an easy-going demeanor
- Be casual about time; may run late
- Be curious and ask a lot of questions
- Not seem to be rushed or in a hurry
- May stray from the topic and go off on tangents
If you think they are Judgers:
- Make sure you are on time (or early) and prepared!
- Have a clear sense of what your goals are for the interview
- Be organized and professional; don’t waste their time
Radar Clue: They exercise a lot of control and the process isn’t much fun.
If you think they are Perceivers:
- Go with the flow; take your lead about the pace from them
- Make sure they know you are flexible and adaptable
- Gently push for, but expect that you may leave the interview with their having made a commitment or given you a timeline for future action
Radar Clue: They are late, unprepared, or seem more casual than they should be, given the seriousness of the task.
Now you know how to SpeedRead and SpeedREACH all your interviewers! Well, not really, but hopefully this blog will have given you:
- An appreciation for the importance of the interpersonal dynamic between interviewer and interviewee
- Useful insights about your interviewing strengths and potential blind spots and suggestions about how to apply that knowledge, and
- Concrete strategies you can (begin to) employ to be more successful in all of your interviews.
Everyone can master these most important life skills, but it takes some work. If you’d like to get started, I invite you to check out my book The Art of SpeedReading People, available on Amazon and at bookstores.
Happy SpeedReading and SpeedREACHing!