What is NLP and How Can it Help Me on an Interview?

Neurolinguistic programming, also referred to as NLP, is an approach to communication that was developed in the 1970s. The foundational concept of NLP is that as people communicate, they provide cues that help others understand how they perceive the world and their underlying thinking process. By paying attention to these cues during the interview process, you can adapt your own communication messages to match, potentially creating a positive impression with the interviewer. NLP is frequently used by journalists, sales people, teachers, psychotherapists and a wide range of other professionals to improve the communication process.

what is nlp and how can it help me on an interview

What is NLP and Meta Messages

One of the key concepts in NLP is meta messages. Meta messages are the messages conveyed underneath the words that are used during the communication process. Body language is a large part of meta messages. For example, if a person sits with their arms or legs crossed, they may be sending you the message that they are holding reservations and defending themselves, even if their facial expression and words are neutral.

Another form of meta message is the actual language pattern a person uses. There are three primary ways in which people understand the world and process communication – auditory, visual or sensate. People who process information from an auditory perspective use words and phrases associated with listening, such as “let’s see what you have to say,” “I hear you,” or “what I hear you saying is . . . ” Individuals who process information visually use words associated with seeing, such as “let’s look at the issue,” “what I see is . . . ” or “let’s look at the facts.” For people who are sensate, words they commonly use are related to emotional or physical feelings, such as “what I feel is . . . ” “I sense you are trying to say . . . ” or “what I get is . . . ”

When talking to an interviewer, you can understand how they process information by paying attention to what they are saying and their body language. By mirroring their language, they understand your messages more clearly because humans are automatically more receptive to language and communication styles similar to their own. By mirroring both their communication style and body language, you tap into that person’s subconscious communication. This enhances the communication process and makes them more receptive to your message.

How to Interview Using NLP Techniques

Using NLP effectively takes practice in order to make it appear natural. There are two primary aspects to using NLP during the interview process: creating rapport and mirroring.

How to Interview Using NLP

Creating Rapport

The process of creating rapport is about making a connection with the person interviewing you. Pay attention to the language they are using and their body language. Listen for words that are either auditory, visual or sensate. Frequently, people use two different modes, so listen carefully for patterns in how they describe the job duties, people you will be working with and the company. As you respond and ask questions, use words that reflect their own descriptive words. Pay attention to whether their body language begins to relax and become more receptive. For example, if they uncross their legs and arms or lean forward toward you then you are engaging with them and building rapport.


Mirroring involves using both words and body language effectively. In addition to using similar words as you speak to the interviewer, pay attention to how they hold their body and casually move so that you present a mirror image to them with your physical stance. For example, if the interviewer is leaning to one side on their chair, lean in a similar fashion to reflect what it would look like if they were looking in a mirror. If they are holding their arms with one arm crossed and the other arm toward their face with their hand on their chin, casually adopt a similar position. The key to using mirroring effectively is the ability to use it in a natural way. The goal is to avoid the appearance of artificially mimicking the person who is interviewing you.

Additional Interview Tips

Knowing how to interview often makes the difference between a successful job search that results in employment and languishing through the process.

• Dress for Success 

No matter what level of job you are applying for, what you wear to the interview is important. Interviewers frequently make immediate choices based on their first impressions. Generally, business clothes in conservative dark colors are the best choice.

• Pay Attention to Your Own Body Language

Own Body Language

In addition to watching the body language of the person interviewing you, be aware that your own unconscious body language sends messages. Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer and do not cross your arms. Make your body stance as relaxed and receptive as possible. This can be difficult if you are nervous, so practice this skill as much as possible.

• Be Prepared

Before you go on the interview, think of questions you might be asked and think of your best answers. It is a good idea to have several versions of answers in your head so that you can adjust your answers according to how the interview is going. Research the company on the internet and become familiar with potential managers, products, services and recent corporate events, so you can talk about those topics informatively.

When looking for jobs, it is important to know how to interview well. NLP is one interviewing skill that you can use to improve your interviewing ability. Practice using NLP with your friends in mock interviews until it becomes a natural skill for you. By learning NLP skills, you may also be adding to skills you can use as part of your future employment.

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