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Get the Perfect Job in Security: Hack#1

Social Proof 

I once worked with a very successful recruiter who said getting a job is simple, all employers care about is two things:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Do I trust you to do the job?

Often your CV and application will answer the first question. The second question is answered by the interview.

Below is the first in a series of posts that shows how behavioural science can help you get the job in security you really want.

Social Proof: Hack #1

Have you noticed how many people want the same thing? The same white BMW, latest iPhone or Dyson cleaner? Is this just because the products are great or is there more at work?

The concept of social proof suggests the desirability of any product or person (interviewee) is driven by others also desiring it. And, if lots of people desire it, we’re likely to desire it even more.

In a world full of choices and demands we aren’t keen on spending time assessing every single option in front of us. We rely on a shortcut; we rely on the decisions of others. Our logic is as follows, if lots of other people have made a choice already then, they must have done all the heavy lifting, the due diligence, the trial and error etc. Choosing a product, person or interviewee that others have chosen is a far safer and quicker bet.

Social Proof in an Interview

Forms of social proof in an interview include: 

  • Awards, commendations, references (perhaps you won at the Security Excellence Awards or commendations for lone monitoring for example)
  • Previous Employers
  • Qualifications and academic achievements
  • Positions of responsibility (captaining a team, leading volunteer group etc).

Social Proof In Action

Obvious uses of social proof appear on the internet all the time:

(Lets see if there’s a ‘Rate Your Security Guard’ app some day…)

However, having one million followers on Instagram does not necessarily get you job in security you’re after! There are a few things you need to harness the power of social proof.

 Stop! Social Proof Needs 3 Ingredients

Activating social proof isn’t just about finding something you have in common with your recruiter, there’s more to it than that. 

Example: Nightclub Queues

Imagine the image at the top of this page is a queue for a nightclub.

Have you ever wondered why nightclubs have queues outside them? Sure, it shows they’re popular but, having queues also puts people off. Who wants to stand around outside in the winter for two hours only to pay £20 to get into a club and discover they didn’t need to queue because it’s empty inside? (At one time the answer was, me).

Nightclubs don’t advertise, they don’t need to. Their queue is their advert and all the social proof they need. The nightclub queue successfully uses 3 ingredients to achieve social proof.

 

1) Quality

Take a look at the people queuing for the nightclub. Do they look like you, dress like you? If you saw a queue of octogenarians would you notice them just the same? We are most attracted to people that reflect ourselves.

Applied to an Interview: If you point out you have worked for a major oil giant in the past this is a form of approval by another, social proof. But does the interviewer identify with your social proof? Do they feel the quality of the person or organisation approving of you is similar to them?

If you are applying for a job in security with the Co-op, an ethically minded organization in retail does the recruiter associate themselves with an oil giant? Probably not.

If you highlight your experience in the armed forces does your potential employer identify with that? Should they have a civilian background, maybe not.

  • Interview Tip: Talk about organisations or people that reflect the same identity as your interviewer or employer.

2) Quantity

The nightclub queue in the picture is a reasonable size. If it consisted of just one person perhaps you’d think it was someone waiting for their friend. If the queue was too long you’d perhaps think it was a fire evacuation or way too large a queue to join.

Successful nightclubs prune or extend their queue to ensure it has just the right quantity of people to make it attractive to others.

Applied to an Interview: How many times have other people or organisations approved of you?

If you have worked for only one company for 15 years what does that say? You’re loyal? Maybe. But, for the recruiter there’s the added risk that only one employer has given approval.

  • Interview Tip: Talk about more than just one organization that has employed you in the past. If you’ve just left school highlight any part-time jobs or roles of responsibility you’ve taken on.

3) Frequency

We won’t often join a nightclub queue the first time we see it. We’ll wait to see if the queue is a one off or if it consistently has a queue outside it, perhaps for a number of weeks. Consistently popular nightclubs are seen as reliable.

Applied to an Interview: How often can you demonstrate approval in your career? Gaining awards and merits is great social proof but, did they all occur in one year of your career or are they consistently awarded to you?

  • Interview Tip: Present yourself as a reliable candidate by evidencing approval throughout your career.

Summary

Interviews are nerve wracking affairs, so much so that we often prefer to just ‘wing it’. But, if you really care about the job you’ll prepare for the interview. Selecting what you talk about according to the three ingredients of social proof will maximise your chances of getting the perfect job in security. 

About the author: Andrew is one of the founders of SIRV. He also serves as Behavioural Economist in Residence at the London College of Fashion and speaks about persuasion at London Business School, UCL School of Management and Cass Business School. He lectures on negotiation at Cass Business School and University of the Arts London. 

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