I begin most of my interviews with “Tell me about yourself and what you’re currently doing?” You would not believe some of the responses that welcomes! However – it’s designed to relax the candidate and get them talking about something they’re a subject matter expert on – themselves! This is the first clue that the interviewer needs to tell me their story.
Matthew H. was an incredibly impressive candidate as soon as he entered the room. Eye contact on-point, impeccably dressed, and very well-mannered. First impressions mean a lot and he was successfully making one with me. When we began talking, he immediately engaged me by relaxing and confidently speaking as if I had known him for years. The way he answered my questions were with a story-telling response. He focused on the what and the why but didn’t immediately go into the how – he left that for a follow-up question, and brilliantly so.
I was captivated and leaning-in to the conversation – continually wanting to know more. This is the exact response you want to incite in your next job-interview. So many candidates spend time telling the interviewer that they’re an exceptional leader, team-player, great communicator, and pay exquisite attention to detail. All of those things are important and wonderful, but the interviewer won’t feel anything worth remembering in that skill-set rundown.
Want to know the secret to a successful interview?
We need to make the interviewer feel a connection with us. It’s not enough to walk into an interview and point blank tell the company how wonderful you are while reading a laundry-list of your best and brightest attributes. Imagine a comedian telling a joke that falls flat, and no one in the room laughs. (Insert cringe here). This is what will happen if you can’t make the interviewer feel that connection that tells them you are the right person for this job.
Here are three steps you can follow to make sure your next interview ends in success.
Do your research! Don’t just study the job description, but seek to understand who the interviewer is and research them. You can learn a lot from a LinkedIn profile and many of the business people I know find it a point of failure if a candidate hasn’t even so much as clicked on their profile. One click can tell you where they went to school, what connections you might have in common, and even where they’ve worked previously.
Why is this important? Through this planning and preparation you can thoughtfully strategize how you’ll engage with the person you’re interviewing with. Knowing your audience is crucial when you are telling your story. The content will be the same, but how you say it needs to have a tailored approach. You can also reach out to any common connections to seek advice on how to approach the conversation.
As I mentioned earlier, eye-contact is a baseline for engaging with others. Relax, be calm but confident in your conversation. If you don’t sound like you know you’re the right person for the job by the way you speak – then others won’t know that you are either. Focus on what you’ve accomplished through your experiences and talk about a high-point example. It’s also okay to point out a success that was first met with failure. It shows the interviewer that you have the ability to admit where you did not succeed the first time, but you did because of your perseverance.
Gaining the understanding of your audience (in this case the interviewer), is a must. If you’re talking too technically or speaking in acronyms no one understands, you won’t come across as relatable. Think about your experience and how it will unfold in story form and tie it in to what the job you’re interviewing for requires. Relating past experience with future potential in a memorable way, will make the interviewer feel comfortable in considering you for the role.
Don’t be afraid to ask a few questions within your own response. Along the way you’ll be commanding a two-way conversation as opposed to a standard Q&A interview. This dialog will create an authenticity that will make the interviewer feel a genuine gut reaction, and that’s what they’ll remember – how you made them feel.
You have to be the one to create your own opportunity. No one in the world can prove you’re better suited for a role than you can. Detail why you’re the best fit for this position and confer that suitability in how it benefits you both. Companies love to invest in candidates who will be the right fit for the role/company/culture, but who are also coming in to a role that’s absolutely right for them as well.
When you create the impression that the role you’re after satisfies what the company is looking for and is also what you’re looking for – you’re on a fast break heading for a slam dunk!
Five Key takeaways
- Tell your story in an interview for maximum engagement
- Confidence, eye-contact and authenticity are a must
- Focus on biggest accomplishments, highlights and recognitions
- Research and prepare
- How you make the interviewer feel is all that they’ll remember
And finally, set yourself apart from others after the interview has been completed. Reach out the next day and send a thank you note to the interviewer thanking him or her for the opportunity to tell your story and how you will be a good fit in the organization. While an email is acceptable form of communication, never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. It’s more than a professional gesture, it’s a class act that will set you apart from others and may end with the interviewer telling you, “You’re hired!”