Visualizing Success in Job Interviews
Unless you’re dealing with an exceptional interviewer, which you can usually determine rather quickly, you should take it upon yourself to insure you find out what the employer is looking for and convey how you can do the job. There are two important things you need to accomplish in interviews: one is providing the interviewer with factual information supporting the idea that you are a good fit for the job; the other is for the interviewer to connect with that logic on an emotional level. Trial attorneys face a similar challenge when presenting their case to a jury. They need to provide them with both factual information and with an emotional connection to their version of the story.
The most powerful way of creating an emotional connection is through visualization. Just as a jury needs to visualize an attorney’s version of a story for them to have an emotional connection with it, an interviewer needs to be able to visualize you in the role they’re hiring for, doing the tasks of the job. The interviewer needs to see you doing those things and needs to be able to visualize the outcomes. Helping someone visualize your story can be done by using detailed descriptions of actions and through appropriate use of hand gestures and body language.
To illustrate, instead of saying the person burglarized the house, which is an abstract idea, a trial attorney would describe the actions: John walked up the brick walkway at 8:00 pm on a moonlit evening, shattered the side window and climbed into the house. The first way of explaining what happened just gives an abstract idea which creates either no image in the listener’s mind, or just a vague image that they won’t remember. The second way provides a vivid image they can easily recall and connect to. The attorney might even use some gestures and body language when talking about walking up the steps or shattering the window, which further reinforces the visual imagery.
“Lead with Need”
One of the most common mantras in the sales world is “Lead with Need.” This means before you start blabbing about how great you are, find out what the customer needs first. Recruiters often describe jobs in terms of skills and education required. These are really just symptoms of a person who could be capable of doing the job but don’t explain what is actually involved. You need to dig deeper and find out from the recruiter the specific tasks that need to be accomplished. Here are some examples of specific tasks:
– Migrate the office from Windows 2000 to Windows 2003
– Install the SAP enterprise software system in all offices nationwide
– Increase sales of our photocopiers to the pharmaceutical industry by 25% over the next 9 months
These are examples of deliverables – specific tasks that need to be accomplished. Ask follow-up questions to be sure you understand. Take notes when the interviewer is talking if you like. One caveat if you take notes: Just make sure you’re coming across as being sincerely interested in the position and not coming across as a salesman or manipulator.
– Once you understand what the job entails and what needs to be done, you should mentally match the tasks with things you’ve done in the past.
– Start off talking about your strongest competencies, tying one of the tasks to be accomplished with something you’ve done successfully.
– You could start off talking about the task they need done, then talk about how you did something similar before, then paint a picture of how you would do it for them, including action words to help them visualize you actually doing it.
– Talk about symptoms of the success your efforts will create. Could talk about a more productive workforce with people spending more time talking to clients instead of doing paperwork. This will help create visual images in the mind of the interviewer that will help them remember you and make it easier for them to see you as being successful in the position.
For example, if the employer needs to migrate their systems from Windows 2000 to Windows 2003, you could first talk about how you migrated a similar-sized company a couple years ago from Windows NT to Windows 2000. You could talk about how you planned the project, how many people were involved, and how the end-users’ productivity changed at the end (hopefully for the better). Then talk about the steps you would go through to do it for them, being as descriptive and visual as possible.