Sexy Interviewing

October 24, 2013

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked for my response to a question for a report she was writing about the interviewing process. My answer came out better than I expected, and with the perfect storm of needing to blog AND having just finished all of my interviews for the term, it seemed like a good thing to share.

The following is my interviewing strategy. It has literally (in the original sense, not this newfangled sense of “figuratively”) never failed me in over twenty-five interviews over the last three years. I’m not claiming it’s a magical recipe for success, but those numbers certainly suggest that there’s something to it.

“What are effective ways to promote and differentiate yourself in an interview so that you leave a meaningful, lasting impression?”

Personally, I don’t care much about being remembered as a stand out candidate – my concerns deal solely with being offered a job. The distinction here is subtle, but important. To this extent, there are only two facets of yourself that need to be illustrated to any potential interviewers: being capable and being charismatic. What’s even better is that the first is completely optional: if you’re already at an interview, as far as the employer is concerned, you’re already capable enough (as long as you haven’t lied on your resume).

Being charismatic is the real secret behind getting hired. The interview process is not an opportunity to show an employer that they should hire you, rather that they want to work with you. Turn the charm dial all the way up to 11, and come into the interview smiling, confident that the employer can’t afford to not hire you. Establish rapport; introduce yourself; ask how their day is going, and if there have been any promising candidates so far – regardless of the answer, here is an opportunity to make the interviewer laugh – take it. Look people in the eyes whenever you are speaking to them, and use their name to prove that you know it.

In general, behave exactly how you’d like to behave in the job. If this is unacceptable to the employer, it’s okay if you don’t get the job, because you wouldn’t have been happy anyway.

During the interview proper, maintain that friendly, jovial smile. Don’t fake it, because people will be able to see right through your facade, but not faking should be easy since you’re genuinely excited to work here (otherwise why would you have applied?). Answer one or two questions with a joke to get a quick laugh before you answer it seriously. Whenever the opportunity arises, mention an interest or hobby of yours – you might be surprised at how many formal interviews can derail into an hour long discussion of the merits of the banjo. If you can pull it off, this is always a good thing, but make sure you are wholeheartedly remorseful that you never got to the meatier parts of the interview.

At the end of the interview, you will be given an opportunity to ask any questions of your own. Ask about the interviewer and about what the team is like. Ask what you will be working on, and what characteristic traits a highly successful candidate would possess. Don’t be afraid to ask any zingers on your mind. As a matter of fact, you should probably have some “stock” hard questions in your tool belt. I’m very partial to “if you had to change something about corporation X, what would it be?” When your time is up, thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand. Reiterate your interest in working with them, and wish them luck with the rest of their interviews.

The overarching theme is demonstrating that you have strong principles which you are unwilling to compromise. You are your own person, and you will not change that just to impress someone you’ve never met before, regardless of who they are. It might sound counterintuitive, but sticking to your morals will impress anyone worth working for far more than putting on your best suit and pretending that you are all business.

They say that confidence is sexy. Be sexy. Get that dream job. It’s hard to argue against being sexy and having a dream job.