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The Lost Art of Mastering a Great First Impression – Part IIIb: How to WOO

If you’re an extrovert, you’ve probably never been told you lack energy or the ability to build rapport. However, when interviewing with an introverted hiring manager, it’s important for an extrovert to dial it down. Introverts want to drill down on your past responsibilities, your experiences, and your success stories. Keep it to the point. While one-word answers are almost never great in an interview, stick very closely to the question asked and don’t over communicate.

One pet peeve of hiring managers is the long-winded candidate. The old comment – “when I ask for the time, don’t tell me how that watch was built” – plays out here. I recently began an interview with a very senior candidate for a large company top exec role, and was going through their resume with them trying to discuss their successes in their major roles. I mentioned one job that they held for only 2 years, 14 years ago, and said we don’t need to discuss this one since it was short and I knew about their transition. I was ready to move on to my next question when he jumped

This went on for the next three roles and the various questions I asked. It took an hour to get through what should have taken 30 minutes and left me floored that a senior exec not only couldn’t follow my lead on this, but also couldn’t read my body language and tone. I was getting frustrated and knew that this candidate would not fit with the CEO who is moving a mile a minute and doesn’t have the time for this. I was also coached by the head of HR that the CEO does not like executives that drone on and on. While on paper he was a good fit, he didn’t make it past round one.

Why is it that seemingly great people with solid experience don’t build the necessary rapport with the hiring team, especially when they’re extroverts? In my experience, it boils down to the following:

  • Droning on when answering a question.
  • Not following instructions and changing the scope of the question asked by the interviewer.
  • Over-selling themselves for the position and making the interviewer question the credibility of their experience. (I’ve heard hiring managers say something like – “they were very sharp and very slick and always had what seemed like the perfect answer, almost too perfect.”)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are no longer jobs that people are interviewing for, only problems and challenges at companies that need to be solved. If you were a consultant whose plate was nearly full, you wouldn’t dream of taking on the wrong assignment, and would conduct yourself accordingly in the interview to make sure it really was the right assignment for you. The same is true when interviewing for a position – conduct yourself like a busy consultant, don’t be afraid to be authentic and let them know what you’re not good at, just as well as what you are good at, and don’t be afraid to say “If you’re looking for … I might not be your candidate. However, if you’re looking for someone that has a track record of doing … then I don’t think there are too many people out there with the same experience and record of success doing that. I just think it’s important for us to agree on the most important characteristics of this assignment.”

That statement positions you as a pro in your field. Be careful not to be contrite, or perceived as not eager for the position. However, valuing yourself and your skills based on having a successful career will be communicated to the interviewer. Letting them know that your objective is to find the right next assignment for you and to be the right solution to a challenge for the right company positions you as that sought after consultant.

Have a comment? Please share it and let’s get the best ideas out to our readers.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how your car can be an asset, or a liability (I know this one will be controversial).

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