The Easiest—and Most Overlooked—Way to Shine at a Job Interview

interview photoThey already think you’re likely to be a good fit. That’s one nice thing about being called in for interviews. If potential employers don’t think there’s a decent chance you can do the job, they’re not going to waste their time talking to you. During your interviews, they will ask you specific questions about your background to confirm that you have the skills required to handle the position. But, beyond that, what they really need to know is if they like you and if you’ll be a match for the team and corporate culture.

SO HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR INTERVIEWERS TO LIKE YOU? ASK THEM ABOUT THEMSELVES.

You always need to be prepared to answer interview questions authentically and persuasively. But interviewers don’t really want to know your entire life story.
Conversely, they actually want to tell you about themselves.

Say what?

Yep, they’d rather talk about themselves.

Here’s why:

The issue here is not that your interviewers happen to be particularly ego-maniacal. It’s a matter of human nature. They are actually WIRED to want to talk about themselves; we all are. Studies have shown that talking about ourselves excites us. In fact, neuroscientists have discovered that talking about ourselves actually stimulates significant activity in the same area of the brain that is associated with the sense of reward that comes from food, money, or sex.

You have probably been taught or know instinctively that people like to talk about themselves; but, in the context of an interview, it’s easy to forget. You feel pressure to give employers every bit of detail you can, so that they understand your capabilities. This pressure, combined with your own innate excitement about talking about yourself, sets a perfect stage for self-babble. Be conscious of that and rein in your own stories in order to let them promote themselves.

WHAT ABOUT CONVINCING THEM THAT YOU’RE THE RIGHT HIRE?

This doesn’t mean you should avoid questions about yourself—of course you need to answer those. Just don’t worry about telling interviewers everything that you want them to know about you. They’ll ask about what’s important to them.

Also, keep in mind that if interviewers monopolize the conversation—and you listen appropriately and ask the right questions—you are actually promoting yourself in a fantastic way. Your interest in them shows them that you are confident, that you care, and that you’re the type of person they want to have representing them in interactions with internal or external customers.

HERE’S HOW YOU ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES:

Before your meetings, research your interviewers. Google them, read their social media profiles, learn everything you can about them. The more you know about them, the better questions you’ll be able to ask.

When you’re meeting in an interviewer’s office, look for items on display like family photos, diplomas, college memorabilia, or patents. Show your interest in the person by asking about them and offering compliments when appropriate.

These are some other easy things you can ask to engage your interviewers:

  • What’s important for me to know about you?
  • How long have you worked here?
  • What did you do before working here?
  • What do you like and dislike about this company?
  • What are the best and worst parts of your job?
  • What are your short- and long-term goals, both in terms of career path and accomplishments?
  • If I do this job well, how will it make your life easier?
  • What’s your management style?

THERE ARE OTHER BENEFITS TO THIS APPROACH:

  • You may be able to identify common background or interests.
  • You take the stress off of yourself and have a moment to breathe.
  • If you will be working directly with this person, you learn more about whether your work styles are compatible.
  • By learning what makes your interviewer tick, you become better equipped to explain why you’re the right candidate.

My clients have consistently confirmed that this advice proved to be invaluable in their interviews. Do you have a story about how asking people about themselves helped you secure a job offer? Please share!

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