Being likeable during an interview is a good starting point.
However, unless you can convince your interviewers that you are likeable in your daily interactions with your colleagues, doubts may linger. The stories that you choose to tell during your interview are critical for demonstrating all sorts of competencies, but you should not forget to weave a thread of likeability into the narrative.
Saying “I get on with everyone I meet” is not enough. When you tell your interviewer a story, they have to be able to imagine themselves in the situation and come out with a feeling that you are a pleasure to work with.
Any interview conversation should feel natural, and I would not advocate shoe-horning stories in for the sake of it, but ideally you want to leave them with as many reasons to believe in your likeability as possible.
In any story that you tell, you might choose to sprinkle the following twelve ingredients of likeability (there are many more - these are just for starters):
1.) You treat others as you would wish to be treated
2.) You listen attentively and respond thoughtfully
3.) You take time to develop meaningful relationships
4.) You do not give advice where it is not required or requested
5.) You believe that perfection is a journey, not a destination
6.) You apologise when you are wrong and learn from mistakes
7.) You have a clear moral compass, which guides your actions
8.) You communicate authentically, directly and honestly
9.) You avoid arguments and welcome open discussions
10.) You are confident, with a healthy dose of humility
11.) You incorporate fun and humour at work wherever possible
12.) You ask questions instead of making statements
As “likeability” is such an intensely personal topic, I am sure that everyone will have their own blend of ingredients. While no one story can contain all of the above, and while you don’t want to come across as being too “nice,” I would suggest that a sprinkling of the above over the course of your interview will do you no harm at all.
It is worth considering that our choice of stories is a great indicator of what we value. If we are telling stories with these factors included, no matter what the story is about, we are showing our interviewers that we rate these behaviours. Even if the story is about the most inconsequential thing, the fact that we took a couple of minutes to show that we value listening attentively and responding thoughtfully (for example) shows that we deem that as important.
If these values and behaviours match up with the culture of the hiring organisation, you are building a strong case for securing the role. If they don’t match up, then maybe the company wasn’t for you after all?
Everyone will approach demonstrating that they are likeable in different ways, but in my view, it is a critical part of any successful interview.
No one wants to work with an ar**hole.