Many candidates believe that an interview is an opportunity to demonstrate their past achievements, skills and fit for a position. So a lot of their statements start with the word 'I'. That’s all good and fine, and I’m not saying you shouldn't tout your achievements. But that’s what everyone does, and remember that your job in an interview is to separate yourself from other candidates. The way to do this is to use the word ‘we’ when referring to your past achievements and also when talking about the job you’re applying for. Here are two reasons why:
One of the biggest tells about people’s confidence is how they talk about themselves and their accomplishments. When I'm interviewing people I always look for slip ups in how they speak. Two phrases that are absolute killers are ‘kind of’ or ‘sort of’.
Here are some examples:
You kind of generated more leads? Is there another way to generate more leads?
You sort of came up with a great idea? Wow, I’m sort of impressed.
Here's what to do about it
Experts say that roughly 93% of communication is non-verbal. That’s a deceiving number, because everyone then thinks that the rest is body language. But it’s not. According to a study led by Dr. Mehrabian Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, that percentage breaks down into three areas. Seven percent of communication is verbal. 38 percent is vocal and 55 percent is visual. So even though it’s only 55 percent, and not 93%, how you communicate with your face, arms, hands and body really says a lot about you – and it can tell employers a ton.
In 2012, TheLadders.com released a research report revealing that recruiters spend an average of 6.25 seconds on a resume before determining whether or not a candidate was a fit for a position.
Whoa. A whole six and a half seconds? Imagine that. You spend countless hours writing the best possible resume only to have someone, who’s job it is to vet your resume, spend a whopping six seconds on it before deciding you’re good enough for an interview.
Kinda makes you feel special, huh?
If you read my book, It’s Not About You: How to think like an employer and get the job you really want you’d hear my full opinion on the sheer futility of applying for jobs through submission of a resume. But for the sake of this blog post I’ll keep it fairly short.
While communication has changed over the years through technology, some things never change and that’s our perception of how valued we feel when we receive something from someone that we know took time and effort. That’s why handwritten letters are so effective as ‘Thank Yous’ after you’ve been interviewed by someone. Sure, an email is great. But I consider a thank you email as table stakes now after I’ve interviewed someone. In fact I’m now surprised if I don’t receive a thank you email. But guess how many people have ever sent me an actual handwritten card after an interview? Less than 10 out of roughly 1,000 interviewees have gone to the effort – and every time I have really appreciated it. After al, the only things I get in the mail now are bills and statements. A nice card is always welcome. Having said that, here are 4 must do's for after an interview, especially an informational interview:
Everyone gets nervous, especially before an important job or informational interview. Some people get sweaty palms as a result - a perfectly normal reaction to being nervous, but perfectly awful for delivering that first handshake to your potential future employer. So what can you do to make sure you’ve got a great handshake even if you’re super nervous?
When I get nervous I get super sweaty palms. And I’m sure that, as a result of my common affliction, I have given plenty of folks the ol’ wet fish handshake at some point - but never to a potential employer because I use one of these two tricks every time and it always saves me.
One of the key pieces of advice you usually get in business is to mimic your audience because it ultimately makes you more relatable. This is pretty sound advice in general and it has served me well with customers over the years. I dress like them, talk like them and even try and adopt their sense of humor when working with them. It can be hugely beneficial to your relationship. In fact it’s kind of in our nature to mimic those we want to be around.
I often get asked what people should bring to an interview – especially an informational interview. It’s always good to have a recent copy of your resume. Some people think having some work examples is important too. But what I really notice is when someone brings a notepad and pen – and actually uses it. You might think I’m kidding, but I would say that only about 20% of the people I interview ever show up with a notepad and pen. And of those 20% only about 5% ever take decent notes of our conversation. So even just bringing a notepad and pen can separate you from 80% of your competition.
Rodger Banister is an award winning copywriter and author of It's Not About You: How to think like an employer and get the job you really want.