Why it is never a good idea to imitate your interviewer

London: You may have benefited from mimicking mannerisms and body language in social situations, but doing so in a job interview can annoy your potential employer, a new study has shown.

Scientists have discovered excessive copycatting in a job interview situation leaves an employer thinking you are incompetent, untrustworthy and not very likeable.

Participants in the study were asked to watch video of several staged interviews. In some clips, the interviewer was cordial, while in others the same interviewer was unfriendly or condescending.

The people being interviewed in the videos either mirrored the interviewer’s simple mannerisms - such as leg-crossing or chin-touching - or they refrained.

Interviewees were then evaluated on their general competence, trustworthiness and likeability by participants.

Despite the fact that the participants were not instructed to watch for mimicry and reported no awareness of it, it still influenced their evaluations.

Interviewees who mimicked the unfriendly ``boss`` were judged to be less competent than those who didn’t and their unconscious mirroring was observed as an error.

“Mimicry is a crucial part of social intelligence. But it is not enough to simply know how to mimic,” the Daily Mail quoted Piotr Winkielman, a professor of psychology at the university in San Diego, as saying.

“It’s also important to know when and when not to. The success of mirroring depends on mirroring the right people at the right time for the right reasons. Sometimes the socially intelligent thing to do is not to imitate.”

The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.


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