Interview Skills: The Secret to Being Remembered

IKEA-Job-InterviewProject 2012: Day 65

So here you are, and you’ve come to the end of your interview. Enter one of the most critical phases you’ll experience throughout the job hunt. Many jobs are lost here.

This is to do with a concept called “Primacy and Recency.”

People remember most the first thing they encounter, then the last. Pretty much everything in between becomes somewhat hazy.

This is also why if you ever have an opportunity to choose, you want to be either the first candidate, or the last. This also goes for presentations you deliver.

Leave a Lasting Impression

So, no matter how you answer the interview questions, you want to make a great first impression, and you want to leave a lasting one.

Often the end portion of the interview is left to “do you have any questions?” (Note: You always do, and we’ll cover those in another post)

Once you’ve asked your questions, it’s time to wrap up. No matter where you are in the interview loop, this may be the one and only interview, or the first in a raft of discussions, this is rarely the end of the process.

There are always next steps

Even if the last, there’s still a verbal offer, verbal acceptance, written offer, potential negotiation, and written acceptance to go. So don’t ever, ever, end with “So,” cheesy smile, “when do I start?”

Also, you don’t want to ask a question like, “How’d I do?” Immediately you’ll have undermined your confidence, and perception of value.

You do want to do three things at this stage:

  1. Leave a good impression as we mentioned
  2. Thank your host for their consideration
  3. Establish next steps, and gain commitment from the interviewer to follow-up

No easy task. Although relatively simple.

End strong

  • So, begin by standing and shaking hands.
  • Then thank your interviewer(s) for their time, and mention that you enjoyed exploring the role further. (unless of course you didn’t enjoy it, don’t lie)
  • Ask what the next steps are. Or re-confirm them if you already know.
  • Finally, ask who is responsible for the next activity, and when they’ll complete it
  • Write this down in your notebook.
  • Goodbye, and leave.

The whole process should take no longer than about 1-2 mins. Being succinct, thankful, and disciplined enough to write down the next steps shows you’re confident and in control. That’s the good impression.

(Re)confirming the next step, and gaining commitment from the interviewer (or their proxy) to follow up puts you in control. Writing it down sends the message that you take the commitment seriously, and gives you the opportunity to hold them accountable. In other words, call them a short time after the commitment to follow through.

Focus on them

Thanks also makes the interviewer feel better. Remember, they’re likely to be in a hole, as they need to fill the position, busy, and perhaps even feel uncomfortable about interviewing. So taking the time to thank them (conditionally) is the right thing to do.

What if it’s not the one?

Don’t be afraid to end the process if you don’t want the role. Remember the interview is as much you determining whether you want to work for this organisation, as it is them determining whether you’re a fit for the role. If there are show stoppers (too much travel, skills mismatch etc.) then have the decency to thank the interviewer for their time, and end the process.

There is a company cost to interviewing candidates. You also have an opportunity cost to interviewing. Every interview you attend for a job you don’t want is time you could’ve spent interviewing for a job you do want.

And that’s not mentioning other potential candidates that may be ruled out if you continue. So if you know you don’t want the job, don’t waste your or the hiring organisation’s time.

Wrap up

Remember: Short, sharp, thankful, and make a note of what’s happening next.

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If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further, feel free to leave a comment below, via social media, or contact me directly