A few people can pull this off naturally, and are great in interviews. Often, these naturals are very attractive, great at putting other people at ease immediately, instantly likable, or really naturally funny.
What about the rest of us?
Standing Out In An Interview:
You don’t have to be America’s Top Model or a stand up comedian. First impressions can be managed. Managing and carefully creating a first impression takes research, planning and practice.
- Act the part: Act & communicate like you already work at the company. Use their style, speak their language, and look like employees at your target company look. If hiring managers make their decisions in the first 2 – 30 seconds of the interview, the decision is made just before or just after the initial handshake. There’s no way you can communicate detail in that time frame, only impressions to influence “gut feel”.
- Research: In “4 Killer Ways to Use Research” (http://www.recareered.com/blog/2008/05/27/4-killer-ways-to-use-research/), I describe great places to look for company research, and how to use it on your resume. Of course it’s great to use research to understand challenges, goals, and to develop questions. But you can use research to understand culture also.
- Create the impression of “fitting in”:Understanding culture is a crucial piece of creating a winning first impression. Hiring managers hire others like themselves … it’s described as being a “good team member”, or “someone who fits in”. First, you’ve got to understand what that means, specifically. Research company websites, annual reports, and articles paying attention to jargon, word choices, and tone. Look at the list of research resources in the 4 killer ways article for more content.
- Look for the following to understand culture:
- Pictures – What do employees look like? What do they wear? Does the company have a formal or informal atmosphere?
- Tone – How do employees communicate? Formally or informally?
- Jargon, Keywords, and Mottos – These will be sprinkled all over marketing literature, websites, and company blogs. Find words you can use in your own conversation.
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