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How to Shine In Your Interview

Stashed in: Listen!, Empathy, Stories, Jobs, HBR, @aaker

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The key is to demonstrate empathy, ability to listen, and ability to tell stories:

A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) study,’ Fool vs. Jerk: Whom Would You Hire?’ showed that when given the choice most people pick one person over another based on two things: competence and likeability. How much and exactly how do they matter?

The HBR study’s conclusion was that people prefer to work with others who are familiar and similar to them: their background, their beliefs, their interests, their personality, ways of thinking, and communication styles. The perception in the business setting is that a likeable, familiar, similar and competent person will be more likely to have projects which flow smoothly and quickly. Obviously, everybody wants to work with the “likeable star” and nobody wants to work with an “incompetent jerk.” Learning to show competence and likeability in an interview will help make you memorable as a desirable candidate and that will be first in line to get the job.

The challenge for candidates is learning how to show your abilities without sounding arrogant. And learn to make yourself memorable as a likable and competent person to your interviewer — improving  your skills as a communicator and as a listener will help.

You could look at your interview as a sort of structured conversation:

There’s a person asking questions, the interviewer and you, the person who’s expected to give good answers. Your goal in interviewing, like in any good conversation, is to build a connection to the other person. A great conversationalist has certain skills that could be beneficial in an interview and could help you forge this bond.

Good conversationalists and people who are good at interviewing share an important common trait.  They don’t simply talk to hear themselves. They use their speech so effectively that with every conversation they build a connection with the other person. In an interview the good conversationalist will be selective in terms of what she shares and how she shares information being careful to present only the most relevant information about her previous accomplishments that would interest her perspective boss. He focuses on what he could bring to the table that could help the hiring manager achieve her goals.

You can learn more about how to tell a great story from listening to Stanford Professor, Jennifer Aaker: The Power of Stories to Fuel Innovation. Aaker teaches students how to create a story to get people to buy into your idea. She says that a great story has the power to transform listeners; to take listeners on a journey that changes how they think, feel and act.

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