I was talking with one of my sons the other day about a conversation we had a few days earlier. I remembered the gist of it but couldn’t recall the details – and certainly couldn’t have repeated everything back word-for-word.
It would have been nice so I could have made a better case for how he misunderstood my conditions for earning a trip to a clothing store he likes (he’s all about looking “cool” right now).
So it is with communication – at best, we tend to only recall key words, catchy phrases and other things that stand out. So how do you make what you say in your next job interview more memorable?
The more memorable your words, the more likely they will be acted on. Here’s seven tips to make the words in your interview stand out:
1. Brief Responses
Keep your responses to questions that require you to elaborate, explain or share to about 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.
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 are we suggesting you learn to talk really fast? No, I guess the point here is that if we like information fast, then we probably don’t like it slow. So the advice isn’t to learn to talk really fast, but rather 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.
For example, instead of re-using the tired cliche of “I want to help you take your 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.
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, one day I decided I would give all of them a follow-up call in the evening to make sure they were feeling okay. They loved it – and one even wrote me a thank you note.”
5. The Power of Three
I advise clients to come up with three key things that set them apart or make them unique and I call it your personal brand. You want to focus on those in your cover letter and resume. But you also want to use these in your interview. No doubt you have lists of things that make you cool, but it’s much easier for YOU to hone in on three key selling points, and much more memorable for them.
So when an interviewer asks you to describe your strengths, don’t give them everything. Decide before the interview what three key selling points are going to be the most attractive to them and then rattle them off. For extra points, use colorful speech and examples (see above) to really drive them home.
6. Metaphors and Analogies
These are exceptional memorable if you can throw one or two into your interview because, again, they really do a great job of painting a picture.
For example, you might include this in an interview conversation where you are sympathizing with interviewer that they have to interview several people: “Finding the right employee, is like finding the right key to unlock a door – you might have to try a few out, but only one does the job.”
7. Interviewer Leads
I’ve seen a few occasions where an interviewer is dominated by the interviewee. The person trying to ask questions is cutoff, or sometimes an interviewer is so nervous they finish the interviewer’s sentences. Not good!
Let the interviewer guide the conversation. Give them a chance to finish thoughts and what they are saying. You want them to view you as personable and relaxed, which hopefully is how you are in real life.