Episode #114 – The Importance of Mirroring During the Face-to-Face Interview

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about mirroring and why professionals should practice it during the face-to-face interview. Hello, Stacy, and that you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Samantha: We’ve discussed the interview on numerous occasions on this podcast. Why is that?

Stacy: Well, the interview is one of the most important parts of the hiring process. Actually, it might very well be the most important part of the hiring process.

The bottom line is that a person’s candidacy depends upon how well they perform during the interview. If a person does well, then they have a good chance of receiving a job offer. But if they don’t, then you can probably guess what will happen.

Samantha: They won’t receive an offer?

Stacy: They will not. That’s why the interview stage of the process is so important. It’s also why I wanted to discuss the topic of mirroring.

Samantha: So what exactly is mirroring?

Stacy: When you mirror others during the interview, you’re identifying the interaction style of the people you’re speaking with. Then you use that same style when you communicate with them.

Samantha: But don’t candidates usually talk with more than one person during the interview?

Stacy: They do, but you can usually tell which people are the decision makers and which ones are not. Obviously, you want to make more of an effort to mirror the decision makers in terms of interaction and communication.

Samantha: Stacy, are we basically talking about personality differences.

Stacy: Yes, that is definitely a factor. People’s personalities can be broken down into two different categories: introverts and extroverts. An introvert is someone who doesn’t talk a whole lot or who enjoys spending time alone. I’m willing to bet that you’ve met examples of each during your life.

So the problem occurs when the person being interviewed is an extrovert and the person conducting the interview is an introvert, or vice-versa. When a situation like that occurs, it’s incumbent upon the candidate to make the adjustments that are necessary. This is where mirroring enters the picture.

Samantha: So if you’re a candidate and you’re talking with a person or people who are introverted, you should tone things down a bit. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with extroverts, you should strive to be a bit more outgoing. Is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s the case, and there are a lot of reasons why you would want to do that.

Samantha: What are those reasons?

Stacy: First and foremost, you want to put the other person at ease. If you’re an extrovert, you don’t want to come across as “too strong.” That might make the other person uncomfortable.

Second, once you put the person at ease, you can more easily make a connection with them. And that’s the name of the game, so to speak, with the interview. You want to make genuine connections with as many of the people interviewing you as possible, especially the decision makers. If people are not comfortable with you, they’ll be more focused on how uncomfortable they are instead of what you’re saying. You want them to be focused on the potential value that you could bring to the organization.

The third reason is that you want to communicate effectively with whoever you’re speaking with. You’ve probably heard the phrase “small talk” before. Some people like to engage in “small talk,” even at the beginning of an interview. However, other people do not. If you’re in an interview setting, you’ll need to mirror the other person in this area. If they want to engage in “small talk,” then it’s okay for you to do so. But if it’s evident that they would rather get right down to business, it would be a good idea to skip the “small talk.” Chances are good that it would only annoy the other person, and the last thing you want to do during an interview is annoy people.

The fourth reason is the most important. You want to be memorable. Being memorable is how you receive an offer of employment. What you want is to instill in those conducting the interview the desire for the conversation to continue, even when it’s time for the conversation to end.

If you get to what appears to be the end of the interview, and the hiring manager is still attempting to carry on the conversation, that’s a good sign. That means they’re not eager to sweep you out the door and send you on your way. If the hiring manager forgets all about you five minutes after the interview ended—or sooner than that—then there’s no way you’ll be receiving an offer of employment. And going back to #2 on our list, if you haven’t made a connection with the person, then there’s little chance that you’re going to be memorable.

Samantha: Wow, this is a lot to remember! I can see why the face-to-face interview is so important. On top of everything we’ve talked about today, candidates still have to answer questions correctly and well and research the organization.

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. This is why it’s so important for professionals to adequately prepare for the interview. It’s definitely a “make or break” part of the process.

As we’ve discussed before on our podcast, I’m a big proponent of continuing education. Professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession should always be striving to learn more and better themselves through education. And this extends to areas that fall outside of the profession, as well, including research about different personality types and how to “mirror” people.

You’re never too old or too successful to stop learning. And as the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” The more you practice this type of identification and mirroring technique, the more successful you will be.

Samantha: And Stacy, I imagine partnering with an Animal Health recruiter or Veterinary recruiter is a good idea, as well, especially in terms of this topic?

Stacy: It is, and I’ll tell you why. Recruiters already have knowledge of the people that a candidate will be speaking with at an organization. They already know the personalities of the hiring managers, for example if a hiring manager or decision maker is an introvert or an extrovert. As a result, they can let the candidate know in advance, so the candidate will not have to do “mirroring on the fly.” That definitely helps to take some of the pressure off. There’s already enough pressure in an interview situation. A recruiter can help you to alleviate that pressure and give you more confidence heading into that situation.

Samantha: Stacy, our listeners probably know that an executive recruiter can help them to find a new job, but would it be safe to say that they haven’t thought about all the different ways that an executive recruiter can help them?

Stacy: Yes, I think that would be safe to say, and this topic of “mirroring” and interview preparation is a prime example of that. Recruiters help professionals gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and that means a competitive advantage over other candidates. If you’re competing for a job you really like and you’re not working with an Animal Health recruiter or Veterinary recruiter, you can bet that someone else who’s also competing for that job could be working with a recruiter. And that recruiter is giving that edge to them and not to you. I’ve placed many candidates over the years that job the job over someone who was not being represented by a recruiter. In fact I’ve had clients tell me they could tell who the candidates were that I represented because they were more prepared than the candidates who were not represented by me.

Samantha: Stacy, thanks so much for joining us today and providing all of this great information.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode!