By Hannah Morgan
Today's workforce is constantly multitasking and overwhelmed by information. Your future interviewer has a thousand things running through his mind as he conducts the interview with you. These circumstances may seem beyond your control, but there are surefire ways to win the interviewer's attention.
Rather than plop yourself in the chair and prepare for the barrage of interview questions, have some of these tricks up your sleeve to entice and engage your next interviewer.
1. Start the interview on friendly terms. Prior to your interview, research your interviewer on LinkedIn, the company's website and online. Look for information on interests, activities, colleges and high school to find something in common. It may be as simple as sharing the same major in college or being a member of the same professional association.
Dig until you find something you can use to start the conversation. Instead of making idle small talk about the weather or how nice the office is, engage the interviewer by showing a genuine interest in him. As Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends & Influence People," famously said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
2. Know how you fit. If you show up and throw up the same canned interview answers, you'll bore the interviewer. Your interviewer is looking for a special candidate who will fit and shine in the role. The interviewer may not be able to define what the quality is, but they often say they know it when they see it.
Do your best to research the company and department by speaking with past or current employees. Ask questions to learn about why people like working there, why employees leave, what current challenges the company faces and what the company's recent successes have been. Search the web, talk with friends and check the company's social media streams for clues that will help you uncover your niche in the department. Use your research to select the most relevant examples of your success. Pick stories that fit with the culture and your potential manager's style.
3. Provide visual proof. If you are seeking a job in a creative field, such as design, marketing or advertising, using visuals is an obvious way to demonstrate your creativity. But many different types of companies look for standout candidates who can demonstrate multifaceted skills and entrepreneurial thinking. Be sure to show your success in industry-neutral terms. In other words, leave out specific product lines or industry jargon that the interviewer may not understand.
For example, instead of saying you've "streamlined a process" or "improved productivity," you could show how you did it. Create a graph or walk the interviewer through the process flowchart you've recreated so that anyone can understand the logic.
Another option is to bring a copy of your infographic resume, which uses images and graphs to underscore important points on your resume, and point out highlights during the interview. Or you could create a presentation of your career highlights for that role with that company. Leave a hard copy with the interviewer. If you've created an online portfolio, be sure to provide the interviewer with printed screenshots and the website address for immediate access and future reference. Practice presenting your visual evidence with different people from different backgrounds to make sure it hits the mark. As a final reminder, it is faster and easier to view pictures than it is to read text. Images evoke emotions and trigger memories. Your visuals could help solidify your qualifications in the interviewer's mind.
4. Close the deal by sharing your plan. During an interview, sales people are often asked to present their goals for the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. While you may not be in sales, consider presenting your 30-60-90 day plan during the final interview. Here's a rough outline. The first 30 days usually address how you will learn the company's systems, procedures, people, customers, clients and overall culture. For the first 60 days, outline how you will to begin to use your strengths to fit in the role. Finally, in the 90-day outlook, list some of the actions you will take to help meet goals stated in the job description.
If this sounds difficult, it should. You are showing your exceptional interest in the role. During every interview, you should be asking questions to uncover what your future manager expects. You always want to make sure that you and your future manager are on the same page. Creating this plan requires a thorough understanding of the role, your manager and the company's goals. That's the type of investment many employers are looking for in a job candidate.