Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Perhaps so. However, an increasing number of social psychological studies have shown that we human beings mimic one another automatically. Still, when we do mimic others, not only does this increase empathy it can also yield actual monetary payoffs. (For a summary see van Baaren et al.)

What's in this for job seekers? Well, although I cannot cite empirical evidence it does seem quite possible that these social psychological results support the advice that is commonly given to those being interviewed: to wear attire that is approximately like that likely to be worn by their interviewers. Clearly the idea is to mimic the visual appearance of those to whom you want to appeal.

Beyond that, when we as career developers are trained to interview clients we are told to try to adopt the clients' language as a way of increasing rapport and in the hope that this will make it easier for clients to present all that needs to be discussed. Most of us find that attention to posture and other forms of mimicry also help.