Most Job Candidates Fail My Simple Interview Test Right Away. Here's How.
Every single time I interview a candidate for a position at work, I always start out by saying, “Tell me about yourself.”
Of course, I start with a little small talk here and there, but I always ask people to tell me about themselves early. As simple as it may seem, their response determines the course for the rest of my interview -- including how long I’ll spend with them. If a first impression creates a lasting impression, then the way they respond is the epitome of a first impression.
Most people fail right away because they give me a long list of their career moments in chronological order, often starting with their first position out of college right up to their current role. They drone on and on about what they did, when they did it and what they did next.
The truth is that I already know their chronological history. I have their resume right in front of me. I’ve already looked at their LinkedIn profile, and in some cases have already checked out their social media presence. I might even know what they had for dinner last night if they’re a foodie. I don’t need a chronological rehash of their sequential jobs through the years.
I want to know about who they are.
Tell me what you are going to do for my organization. Tell me why I should hire you. Get me excited me about you, as a person.
Here are five ways you can do that and make a great first impression in your next interview.
1. Sum it up.
Take all of your history and all of your experiences, then tie it together into a cohesive statement of what you do. For example, if you’re applying for a job in project management position, explain your knowledge of bringing diverse teams together. Show me how you can galvanize everyone around one central mission and complete a complex set of deliverables against defined key performance indicators.
That would make me sit up in my seat.
2. Tell stories.
Back up your experience with compelling stories where you have been your absolute best. Stories go beyond the bullet points of a resume and add texture to not only how you do your work, but also how you relate to others. Stories turn you into a productive human being, rather than a piece of paper.
Going back to that project management example, you might describe a time you saved a CEO's high-priority project. You could go into detail about how you turned the team around, stayed on budget and delivered results on time.
3. Do your homework.
Research the company, the position and the interviewer ahead of time, so you know what’s important to all of the constituents. Then, position yourself and your skills against what you know they are looking for. If collaboration is a priority, then focus on your ability to work with and direct others -- even those who don't report to you. Or, if profitability is a priority, then focus on your ability to reduce waste, cost and staff time to execute against plans.
4. Find ways to relate.
How can you create a human connection with your interviewer? If the interviewer is a foodie, then work in your culinary passions into the conversation. If you went to the same college, talk about your favorite memories to create a bond.
However, I'd advise not talking about sports if the interviewer never mentions sports in their own social channels.
5. Just be yourself.
If I'm hiring, then I want to get to know you just as much as you want to impress me. If you are true to yourself, then you’ll know if it’s a fit and vice versa. The whole point of an interview is to get beyond the buzzwords of a resume and really get to know the you, how you think and how you perform -- how you will fit into my organization.
So be honest, and you’re sure to have a much smoother interview -- it might even help you get hired.