Have you ever met someone for the first time and had a negative feeling almost immediately? How about the reverse: Meeting someone and immediately liking him or her. Why is that?
Whatever the reason, there are certain clues that determine what the early relationship with another person or group will be. It’s difficult to change or erase over time. In an interview or a presentation that is only an hour long, whatever the initial rapport is, it probably won’t be changed within that hour’s time. So it’s important to get it right the first time.
How do you do that? Here are some examples:
In a presentation, make your key points early on, then go back and explain more in detail the rationale and information to support each key point. This helps the audience warm up to you and comprehends the content material by stimulating their interest early on. They tend to pay full attention to the complete presentation when getting a fuller explanation.
If you’re writing an article or a newspaper story, the headline will draw the reader in, or not. The headline is the bait that leads to the first paragraph that summarizes the whole story, and then moves into the body of the article. Each segment brings the reader to the next segment.
Interviewers, like most people, have a short attention span especially when they are interviewing candidates one after another. You have to differentiate yourself from all others by getting your key points across in a concise yet understandable way. Many candidates spend too much time answering a question that wasn’t asked, or give background information that isn’t needed. Usually interviewers will ask targeted questions like, “What did you do?” “How did you do it?” and “What were the results?” Your answers should be compressed into about 30 seconds. The interviewer will either move on to the next question or ask more detailed questions on the same subject.
When an interviewer moves on to the next subject, it means you have given them what they were looking for. When an interviewer asks more detailed questions on the same subject, it means they are particularly interested in learning more about your experiences in that area. It’s an important indicator that the interviewer wants more information because the open job requires that experience. You now have important information. You now need to parallel your answers with the interviewers interest and what’s listed on the position description. This form of triangulation is a skill that can be learned and effectively used by candidates to enhance their positioning as a finalist candidate.
Your initial contact with an interviewer is critical. Smile, exude warmth, project confidence and make the interviewer feel comfortable during your time together. Make your key points early, short and focused on answering the question and not meandering around your response with useless information.
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