As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana –, I and my associates come daily across through a variety of candidates whom we prescreen for our clients.

Strangely enough and most definitely true, you need a completely different skill- set to get the job, than you need to actually do the job.

There is plenty of advice to google on interview techniques. One less known but possibly highly effective method/ skill-set to ace your interview is NLP. NLP stands for NeuroLinguistic Programming. Let me express this in a different way:

Neuro –from the Greek νεύρο=nerve, obviously relating to our nervous system and in extension to how we perceive the World and including our generated thoughts, feelings, notions/perceptions of concepts, physiology, memories, and how we also react including the use of linguistic patterns.

Linguistic relates to the use of language –both visual and speech to communicate with our fellow human beings but also with ourselves (e.g. our internal dialogs).

Programming, as in using our brain to conceive, plan, execute and achieve results with always taking into account the effect and impact their have on others and their (re)actions.

NLP was developed at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the 1970s, primarily by Richard Bandler -a math student and Johm Grinter -a Lingustics Professor. Frank Pucelik also worked with Bandler but unclear to what extent.

NLP is based on the work of three therapists – Virginia Satir (she founded Family Therapy), Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), and Milton Erickson (Ericksonian Hypnosis is a very effective tool and widely used today).

Basic Principles of NLP
The basic NLP idea is that thinking is done with the whole of our body and our thoughts are “expressed” also via our body language in 3 possible ways:

  • Visual
  • Auditory, and
  • Kinesthetic

And our body language depicts the type of thinking we are using at a(ny) given moment.

Thus, the direction that your eyes are glancing at while you are engaged in speech, reflect whether you are in a ‘feeling state’ (looking down left or right), or you are remembering/ imagining an image (looking up left or right) or a sound (looking horizontally/ ‘at eye-level’ left or right).

Obviously interviewers do that too. This very same ‘analysis’ was widely used in the press regarding whether George Bush knew if Iran had weapons of mass destruction.

If I were to ask you something and you are looking up to your right while responding to me, according to NLP you are creating and nor recalling reality – i.e. you are fabricating a lie.

Also, the way someone glances when s/he talk to you it reveals if that person is an Emotional (because he spends more time on the Kinesthetic region) or a Visual or an Auditory person. So, you have a ‘key’ on how to approach this person and unlock the flow of better communication with each other.

Kinesthetic people “get a (gut) feeling” about things, they buy things based on feelings, the use constantly the word ‘feel’. Auditorians, start almost every sentence with “I hear” or “it sounds…”. Visual people use expressions like “I see…” or “it looks like….” Hmmm. Do these expressions sound familiar?

With an Auditory interviewer, you need to use rich language, because s/he pays heavy attention to every word that comes out of your mouth; the tone of your voice is equally important. A Visual interviewer has to be able to ‘see’ what you are talking about to describe things in your responses in a way that they create images for the other person; this interviewer will really judge your appearance and how you are dressed up for an interview and of course they expect strong eye-contact. The Kinesthetic interviewer needs to ‘feel’ your passion for your achievements and work experiences; s/he also needs to feel your ‘presence’ in the room and see you ‘feeling’ your story with the corresponding hand gestures.

How else do you use NLP during the Job Interview?

NLP believes in visualization and suggest that you play the whole possible interview- scenarios in your head and you visualize them using obviously positive thoughts. Mental rehearsal is of paramount importance to NLP.

Another thing that you are possibly familiar with (it’s nowadays almost in every interviewing book) is reflecting/ mimicking the body language of the interviewer. E.g. is s/he sitting in a normal way on his/her chair? Then copy it and don’t lay back getting comfortable and cozy on yours; nor lean forward either.

Use Metaphors as Anchors to create a point of reference for a particular experience, personal or professional. Google is full of references on how to do it and that is a huge topic on its own right. .

Simply put, try to match the interviewer’s body language, use of speech and his/her own pace (let him/her set the interview pace) and display a genuine wish to create rapport and have a great communication with the interviewer.

How valid is NLP?
You will find thousands of examples of NLP’s validity on Google, so it possibly works.

During his PhD studies in the US in the mid90s, my husband took a course on Expert Systems, and most of it was NLP; they (Computer Science and Psychology students) were taught this as a technique on interviewing SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) so they could effectively extract the SME’s knowledge and built Expert Systems. The basic idea, was to use NLP to establish a better rapport with the interviewee.

Beware of NLP Trainers.
Unfortunately, due to Bandler’s anti-establishment stance, NLP Certification never got any kind of methodology on how to uniformly certify trainers and trainees to a given quality standard nor how to really control the certification process.

On top of that NLP has been hijacked by Life Coaches and Sales Trainers, creating a huge PR and potential income footprint for all involved, so don’t assume that every NLP trainer knows what s/he is doing and that s/he can really help. Do all Bible preachers have really read the Bible and understand it?

So, please be careful and don’t let any qualified ‘trainer’ detach you from your money.

Kindly start with a good book please. It would be inappropriate for me to recommend one, but book reviews and rankings are readily available.

Can NLP help you during Interviews?
Yes, it is a skill that when fully acquired and properly used, it would indeed help you have a better communication / rapport with the interviewer. This article is just a super-brief summary on this vast topic.