Most people don’t realize when they’re job interviewing that the interviewer’s memory has a strong influence in whether the job candidate ultimately gets hired. Why? Because hiring decisions simply don’t happen in real time. Furthermore, in today’s corporate world, interviewers are untrained (it’s not their “day job”), overworked, and distracted, and they’ve most likely interviewed several candidates for the same position. You need to not only set yourself apart, but also make them remember you in a positive light.
Say it so they get it. Say it so they remember it. Say it so they want it.
That phrase is simple. Remembering those eighteen words, which ought to be easy enough because most of them are the same, at a minimum provides you with a successful formula for the interview. Using the five following principles to execute that formula will make you memorable.
- Keep It Short and Simple. Superfluous information hinders their ability to remember.
- Capture and Keep Their Attention. They can’t remember you if they’re not listening.
- Talk in Their Lingo. Speak in a language they understand.
- Make Them Believe You. Use details to make yourself believable.
- Get Them to Care. Highlight the benefit to the individual in addition to the company.
This is the final in a five part series that covers each of these principles. You can review all other parts using the links or review the material in much more detail in the Storytelling Chapter of Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired. I provide a complimentary eBook to anyone who signs up for the email distribution list on the front page of the milewalk website!
Get Them to Care. While believability might be easy to attain, getting them to care might be more difficult. This is true for two reasons. First and foremost, you will not be her top priority at that moment. The interviewer might grant you full attention in rare cases, but more likely her focus will zoom in and out intermittently, thanks to the breakneck pace she works at. Unfortunately, you are her midday distraction. Second, I believe people are generally good-hearted and willing to help in most cases, but my twenty-five years of corporate experience has shown me that the overwhelming majority of the workforce operates with their self-interests in mind. So how do you get them to care?
The next words I’m about to write pain me. The easiest way to get the interviewer to care is to show her how hiring you benefits her (or something she cares about). Sure, she will care how hiring you benefits the company overall, but often the specific impact to her will carry more weight. I’m guessing some will think otherwise, but subconsciously, this is a factor for most interviewers.
Tactically, you need to highlight how your capabilities and contributions will impact her. There are different techniques you can use, depending on where the interviewer works in the organization. If you are interviewing with a superior, for example, you might indicate that if you were hired, your skills are strong enough to help relieve her of some of her daily duties so she can focus on more strategic areas. When speaking with a peer, show how you could serve as another resource to share ideas and cross-train each other on your complementary skills. To a subordinate, you could highlight the areas in which you can teach or mentor her and your desire to present her with challenging opportunities for growth. These are just a few examples to get you thinking about the possibilities. These points can be worked into your responses to many commonly asked interviewing questions such as “Why should we hire you as opposed to someone else?” “What unique value do you bring to the organization?” “Can you provide examples of how you are a team player?” and “How would your team members describe you?” This will become much easier if you have prepared and given thought to the key attributes you want to highlight. As you can see, there will be many opportunities if you are ready for them.
In addition, you can also take advantage of this technique when it is your opportunity to ask questions. One of the more potent interviewing questions I suggest for my candidates is to focus on the benefit for the interviewer. For example, you could ask, “If you were to present me with a job offer and I was to accept, what would be the first activity or project I could do to make your life easier?” That question applies irrespective of whether the interviewer will be your boss, peer, or subordinate. With that simple question, you have personalized your connection to the interviewer and showed her that you care about how hiring you benefits her. It might sound subtle, but I assure you the impact will be significant.