Today, I’d like to introduce you to another way of starting an interview – whether it be a phone interview or a face to face interview with someone who has not talked with you before.
It’s important that you make yourself memorable, actually – hard to forget, right? The interviewer may have spoken with 5 other candidates before you, and will be talking with 12 more after they talk with you… So how do you become more than just a commodity?
FIRST, IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM
If you’ve followed this newsletter for more than a few weeks, you understand that it’s important to make the interview about the interviewer and their company, and not about yourself. But that can be difficult when they ask you the question, “So, tell me about yourself.” However, there is a way to answer that question that makes it all about THEM. I’ll get to that in a moment.
LET’S TALK ABOUT BRAINS
Before I give you the valuable secret of capturing not only the attention of the interviewer, but the imagination of that person (or panel), I need to talk a little bit about how the brain works.
The most recently evolved area of the brain is the neo-cortex, or the squiggly outer layer of the brain.
This is the area that is responsible for filtering out information; in other words, it does the critiquing – the judging.
Of course, you’ll want to bypass that filter in your introduction, and get to the middle brain, which is the mammalian brain. It developed over 50,000 years ago, most likely millions of years ago.
What most people don’t know is that the middle mammalian brain is the one that is in charge of making decisions.
It also houses our emotions. You may be aware that people buy things emotionally, then justify the decision logically. This means that the middle brain makes all of our decisions, hundreds, or even thousands, per day. Then the outer neocortex justifies the decision in rational ways.
So what we want to do, as someone wanting to influence the decision maker’s choice of a new hire, is bypass the neocortex and go straight for the middle brain, right?
HOW TO WIN THE JOB
Therefore, we need to speak directly with that middle brain… and the best way to do this is with stories. So, you want to start the interview with a story. But not just any story – a story about THEM, not you. At this point, you may be thinking,
"So how the $%*& do I do that? Just tell me the secret!!”
Start with a story about a problem that companies, like the one you’re sitting in right now, may be experiencing. Describe that type of company, and then explain the problems they may be facing as you see it. That’s where you come in… Then, and only then, do you explain how you solve those problems better or differently than other talented people. If you add sensory information, something they can see, imagine, or hear in their minds, that’s even better.
In case I may have lost you with the neuropsychology in the previous paragraphs, let me boil it down for you and then give you an example, so that you can use this in your next interview.
Storytelling is the oldest form of communication we humans have...
Imagine the head caveman of a clan, standing over a fire pit in a cave, describing in primitive language how he conquered the saber tooth tiger with a spear, his bare hands and pure grit. The clan is captivated by his story, even though his actual words are the least understood part of his narrative.
This is storytelling in its rawest form, and it’s this type of story that will capture the imagination of a decision maker as you’re sitting across from them in a job interview.
Here is an example of using your target company as the central theme in a story to open the interview.
You’re exchanging pleasantries and trying to find something in common to mention to the hiring manager, then you both sit down and the person at the other side of the table says, “So, Jonathan, tell me about yourself.” You answer with…
“Well, do you know how some mid-size businesses in your industry find themselves with skinnier margins than they’ve ever had before, and it’s because since the recession, prices of suppliers and vendors have skyrocketed, and their marketplace just won’t allow them to keep up with those price increases by raising their own prices… So their business suffers and they make very little profit.
"Well, that’s where I come in – one of my specialties is negotiating with vendors and raw material suppliers to keep their prices down, and the end result is a huge increase in margin, which makes everyone happy. The side effect is that it makes you look really good!” you say with a big smile on your face.
Who doesn’t want to look good, and who doesn’t want bigger margins?
Not only is it a fun story, but it’s what neurolinguistic programming calls a “pattern interrupt.” In other words, they weren’t expecting that answer at all, and it woke them up from the daily grind trance they find themselves in with every other interview.
If you’d like some additional background on this technique, or you just didn’t have time to read this long article, then check out the video below, and digest it visual-style.
Here’s to your job search – and career – success! If you have any questions about job seeking, or would like to talk with one of our coaches (for free!), we now have a new hotline email address - so contact us at AskMe@CRCadvice.com . We would love to hear from you!
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