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 fourth in a five part series that covers each of these principles. If you simply can’t wait for the remaining pieces, you can 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!
Make Them Believe You. In all honesty, telling stories that are believable is probably one of the easier obstacles you need to overcome. The reason is that if you truly lived the event you’re sharing, you have the specific details that will help them believe you lived it. Making them believe you provides the interviewer with two of the most important qualities about you—sincerity and experience.
Regardless of the interviewer’s adeptness at interviewing, she is a human being. Humans can smell dishonesty a mile away. It has a certain undeniable stench to it. Your level of genuineness, on the other hand, is something that will remain consistent throughout the recruitment process (assuming that the process is thorough enough). Experience is a critical component they seek. Is the candidate actually qualified? Does she have the skills and experience to succeed in the job?
While there are many ways to get someone to believe you, there are essentially two means for our purposes. First, you can provide an external authority to vouch for you. The more trusted the resource is to the employer, the more weight her opinion will carry. This technique is often used when a company is conducting a formal reference check, an informal reference check, or an employee referral to validate your previous experience and performance. This avenue is obviously something that you cannot control and, while helpful, should not serve as your sole method to reinforce your credibility.
The more direct and controllable technique is to smother the interviewer with details and use statistics if appropriate. Your goal in the interview is to gain internal credibility, which can be validated through external credible resources such as your references. To clarify, when I refer to details, I do not mean being verbose and violating our first principle of remaining brief. I am suggesting sprinkling in specific information about how you designed something, solved an issue, managed a project, or sold a product. Sharing with the interviewer a step-by-step process will make her feel as though you actually lived the situation and therefore have the experience she is looking for. I also recommend highlighting only the details that actually matter to the situation.
An excellent supplement to the details is statistics. I would add precise statistics. For example, your interviewer might be interested in whether you had a sales quota last year and how you fared against that quota. She would be far more inclined to believe you if you indicated your quota was $1 million and you exceeded it by $257,000 than if you said you exceeded it by approximately 25 percent. If your project took fourteen weeks to complete, indicate the project took fourteen weeks as opposed to approximately a quarter of a year. Employees who have earned significant accomplishments simply remember them because of the amount of time they took to achieve and their level of importance.