I was racking my brain the other day trying to remember some things a co-worker and I had discussed about a week or so before that were important to a project we are working on. It just wasn’t coming back and I was kicking myself I had not taken better notes.
So it is with communication – at best, we tend to only recall key words, catchy phrases and other things that stand out from all the conversations we have. So how do you make what you say in your next job interview stick with the interviewer?
Let’s face it, the more memorable your words, the better chances you have at being remembered in your dental hygiene job interview. Here’s seven things to help with that.
1. Brief Responses
Practice keeping elaborate responses to questions brief – somewhere around 30-45 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but the average person speaks about 110 to 150 words per minute (WPM). So at 30-45 seconds, you are speaking about 1-2 paragraphs or maybe like 4-5 sentences. Even that is a lot for an interviewer to remember, but it’s a nice range and balance between too little and too much.
Try typing out responses to two or three typical interview questions. See if you can keep your written explanation to about 4-5 sentences, then practice saying it.
2. Pacing Your Responses
Did you know most audio book publishers require books to be voiced at 150-160 WPM? Did you also know we typically read at a rate of 200 – 300 WPM and that auctioneers are in the 250-400 WPM range?
Remember, we typically converse at 110-150 WPM. So, why do we read and listen to books so fast? Studies show we absorb information better and are more attentive when what is being communicated to us is more rapid.
So am I suggesting you learn to talk really fast? Not necessarily, my point is to work on making sure you are not talking too slow. Be aware of your own pace. Some of you may be slow talkers and it will help you to be aware of that so you can learn to increase that or to compensate for it by enunciating phrases and keywords really well.
Time yourself and see where are at.
3. Go for Color, Run from Cliches
It’s super easy to use cliches – they roll off the tongue without requiring much thinking. But the problem is they are forgettable for the interviewer. Try practicing more colorful speech (no, not swear words). Use words and sentences that paint a picture or tell a story in someone’s mind. The art of story-telling is really big in marketing because an audience is drawn in and more engaged, thus creating a more memorable experience.
For example, instead of re-using the tired cliche of, “I want to help you take the practice to the next level” you could say something like “I want for all patients to leave the practice with a smile on their face.”
The first statement is vague – what’s the “next level” mean? The second creates a visual of an outcome that is easier to understand and more emotional. And be genuine, be real – most employers can sense the difference between telling them what they want to hear and what you really feel deep down inside of you.
Everyone, especially interviewers, love examples. It gives them the specifics and is sort of an extension of using colorful speech (mentioned in the last tip) because it tells a story.
Here’s an example. “I love doing small things to help patients feel good about their experience. For example, I’ve decided to call all of my perio patients the next day to make sure they aren’t in pain. I can tell it makes a difference in their voice and most thank me.”
5. The Power of Three
I advise clients to come up with three key things that set them apart or make them unique – in essence, it’s your personal brand. The differentiators should be very apparent in your cover letter and resume, but also in your interview. No doubt you have lists of things that make you cool, but it’s much easier for YOU and more memorable for them if you hone in on mostly just them. They should clearly define you and ideally match up with what the employer is looking for.
So when an interviewer asks you to describe your strengths, don’t give them a long laundry list. Give them three, and briefly describe or give examples of each (remember, only about a 30-45 second response).
6. Metaphors and Analogies
These are exceptional memorable if you can throw one or two into your interview because, again, they do a great job of painting a picture that employers can visualize and engage in.
For example, you might include this in an interview conversation where you are sympathizing with an interviewer that they have to interview several people: “Yeah, I imagine it’s like finding the right key to unlock a door – there are lots to choose from, but only one works.”
7. Interviewer Leads
I’ve been in a few situations where an interviewer is dominated by the interviewee. The person trying to ask questions is cutoff, or sometimes an interviewee is so nervous they finish the interviewer’s sentences. Not good!
If you have that tendency – hopefully you are aware of it enough to try and control it in this situation. Let the interviewer guide the conversation. Give them a chance to finish thoughts and what they are saying. Listen carefully to what they are saying and don’t focus on a point you want to make. Just help facilitate a nice, even-flowing conversation so they feel relaxed and you do as well.