Job Interview Ahead? Here’s 6 Ways to Make Yourself Memorable

aaHR blogger and columnist Liz Ryan wrote an excellent piece on LinkedIn, The Five Deadliest Job Interview Mistakes. And it occurred to me: These five mistakes all boil down to a single question:

Are you memorable?

Per Liz’s column, this could be memorable in either a good way, or a bad way. For instance:

  • Not asking any questions at all? Memorable – in a bad way
  • Asking amazing questions after researching the company well? Memorable – in a good way

So how can a job seeker consistently make themselves memorable in a positive way?

1. Those First Seconds Count

Most interviews are settled within seconds, possibly even within a single second as Staffing and Recruiting consultant Donna Svei wrote here and I wrote here. Coincidentally, Donna and I concluded that we are hardwired to make such snap-judgments about others. As Donna’s post said:

“And lest you think your interviewer might be too well trained to make snap judgments, think again. Another study, conducted at Tel Aviv University (Hassin & Trope), in a simulated interview setting, found that we’re hard-wired to make instant judgments about others.”

Grooming, odors, smiles, handshakes, weight, projected energy and posture, and myriad other factors play into that critical first impression, and the interview is often won or lost faster than you can say, “Nice to meet you.”

2. Be “Sticky”

Unlike the hiking dictum “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”, you want to leave something behind that is memorable and physical – and not just a business card. I always bring portfolios of my work, including my resume, as something to discuss during an interview. I typically leave one behind. (Recruiter and job-search advisor Nick Corcodilos has two excellent articles on interviewing: 5 “Sticky” Interview Tactics: Part 1 and 5 “Sticky” Interview Tactics: Part 2.)

The goal of this approach, is to be sticky in their mind as a top candidate who is able to do the work, interested in doing the work, and will fit in. And part of being sticky is having something that reminds them of you – something physical. It may not be a portfolio, or a copy of your resume, but put some thought into what might be most remembered by that recruiter before you go to the interview.

3. The Halo Effect

Remember, people hire people they like. Even more specific: people like people like them.

Before you go on an interview, take a page from companies vetting people on social media, and do the same (after all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander). Google the interviewer (or interview team); if you don’t know who they are, ask the HR person setting up the interview.

Look them up on LinkedIn. Can you find their Twitter feed? Are they on Facebook? Once on-site, and assuming you are brought into someone’s office for the interview, look around quickly for cues. What commonalities exist? Did you attend the same school? Do you have a common outside interest? Do you have common life events (e.g., kids and pets)?

The key to this approach working: being subtle but sincere. It’s one thing to observe someone’s scuba pictures as you go into an office, asking about them, then casually mentioning that it reminds you of the time you went wreck diving. It is quite another to say: “Oh, I looked you up on Facebook and  saw that we share an interest in…” That is how you go from candidate… to stalker.

4. Laughter is the Best Medicine

I cannot stress strongly enough how much of hiring decision is based on emotion. There are very few people who do not like to laugh. So there is tremendous power in being casually, conversationally funny.

This doesn’t mean, of course, spinning off jokes – even clean and innocuous ones – left and right. But if you are a quick wit, there are opportunities in this. (Dangers too, so be judicious.) If you can elevate their mood, they are more likely to remember you as a stand-out candidate – and see you as a “fit” culturally.

5. Ask Amazing Questions

Candidates who ask strong questions are sharp, interested, and serious about the position. And if your questions are very good, the interviewer will go back to their HR team members and say, “This candidate asked me some really great questions” – which will start a discussion around the questions you asked and how they convey your intellect and drive.

6. The Follow-Up

Everyone counsels sending thank-you notes… so it is a surprise that so many people do not. And because they don’t, this is a great chance to be memorable!

First, send email thank you notes ASAP. That evening, at the latest. Second, within two days send a thank you note by snail-mail. This way the hiring manager gets a second reminder of you, and gets it after the immediate memory of your visit is starting to fade.

There is another opportunity here, whether in the email or mailed note. Did they mention a specific problem they’re having? Do some research; can you send a link to a helpful article? Was a hobby they mentioned or that you noticed from cues in their office? Send something interesting about that hobby. The opportunities to show that you are attentive, and that you will go the extra mile, are legion. Take full advantage.

Ultimately, an interview is a marketing presentation, nothing more. Just as a sales professional tries to sell their product or service as the best-value solution to a company’s problem, you are in an interview to do the same.

From the moment you arrive in their parking lot, to your follow-up thank you notes, how you differentiate yourself from all other candidates – what makes you memorable – makes all the difference.

Go get ‘em.

 

For this post, YouTern thanks David Hunt!

 

david hunt, pe

 

David Hunt PE AuthorAbout the Author: David Hunt, PE is a Mechanical Engineer with a background in multiple industries, but predominantly in plastics. Currently “in transition,” he blogs at davidhuntpe.wordpress.com to draw attention to his knowledge, accomplishments, humor, and intellectual curiosity. He seeks a job in Design, NPI, or Sustaining Engineering in or commutable from southern NH; he just started a Graduate Certificate in Six Sigma to complement his two Masters degrees. Reach David via email or Twitter.

 

 

 

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