Careers

The scientific reason being likable will get you hired and self-promotion won't

Jim Halpert, from NBC Universal's "The Office," is an incredibly likeable co-worker. In this image, he poses with basketball legend Julius Erving.
NBC Universal
Jim Halpert, from NBC Universal's "The Office," is an incredibly likeable co-worker. In this image, he poses with basketball legend Julius Erving.

If you want to rock a job interview, don't just sell yourself and your abilities. Sell how you're a great fit for the company in terms of personality. And smile.

A study published in the American Psychological Association analyzes two interviewing tactics side-by-side: self-promotion and ingratiation, which means working to be liked by others.

The results suggest that job candidates who focus on ingratiation, or who were likable, have a better chance of being hired.

If they are perceived as a good fit, their chances for landing the job rise even more.

Self-promotion, on the other hand, has only a weak or limited impact on hiring results.

The same holds true when asking for a raise, science shows. A meta-analysis of several studies says that ingratiation is more effective than tactics that rely on authority or pure self-promotion.

Simply put, research suggests that you should do two things:

  1. Aim to be liked by your boss or prospective boss

  2. Sell your skills and experience as a good fit for the company

But how do you win someone's favor? How do you show that you will be a great fit? One executive who helps women get hired everyday has a few tips.

"Employers are thinking about whether or not they want to work with you everyday," says Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success, a nonprofit that helps women with professional clothing and career advice.

"Employers are thinking about whether or not they want to work with you everyday." -Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success

"They're not only hiring you for your skills," Gordon tells CNBC. "They're hiring you to make sure you're a right fit for the culture of the company."

Conveying that you're a good fit comes down to social cues, she says. For example, if your boss discusses how he or she is passionate about a topic or skill set, find opportunities in the interview to speak to those passions or skills.

"You need to take cues from your employer on things that they like, things that they're interested in," Gordon says. "Speak to those interests."

Doing your research beforehand will help tremendously, the CEO says.

For example, ask yourself: What is the company's mission? What direction are they going in? What skills do they need that you can offer?

If you're already hired, find out what's important to your boss, what he or she likes, and work on those areas.

Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist, has spent years finding what makes people more influential and persuasive. He captures the sentiment perfectly in his best-selling book Influence.

"We like people who are similar to us," Cialdini writes. "This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background or lifestyle."