Last week, I met with Marty Belinsky, vice president of human resources for MediSync, a consulting company for medical groups located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Marty has worked in human resources for more than 30 years.
I asked him, “In your opinion, what is the most important factor in the interview process that determines whether or not you make a job offer to an applicant?”
I thought Marty was going say something about how important it is that the person is well prepared. Or, that the applicant conveys self-confidence. But Marty’s reply was: “I hire the person who I connect with. Once I receive a résumé and determine if the person has the experience and the qualifications to do the job, then it’s all about the applicant’s ability to make a connection.”
I admitted to Marty that I never had looked at the interview in that way. I looked at the interview more as a venue to answer questions, overcome objections, find out the interviewer’s needs, sell my qualifications and differentiate myself from other candidates.
However, I started researching what Marty said about the importance of making a connection in the interview process, and I found others who agreed with him:
• Frank Heasley, president and CEO of Medizilla.com said: “Being outstanding in the interview process is more of connecting than being different.” (Medzilla.com press release, Feb. 20, 2004)
• Joe Takash, president of Victory Consulting in Chicago said, “It’s one thing to be impressed with a candidate; it’s another to ‘like’ the person. Developing rapport with the interviewer is the key.” (Medzilla.com press release, Feb.20, 2004)
Making a connection with an interviewer is not guaranteed. I have heard people say they had a poor interview because the chemistry wasn’t right. “No chemistry” is code for “no connection was made.”
Creating chemistry or making a connection occurs best when both parties are relaxed. We are our natural selves when we relax. Building rapport and making a connection occur when we are our natural selves.
Below are seven suggestions you can do prior to the interview to help you relax and make a connection:
2. Practice your answers and questions with friends and family members. The confidence that comes from practice is an antidote for nervousness.
3. Minimize the importance of the interview in your mind. You will put unnecessary pressure on yourself when you over-dramatize its importance. Regardless of the outcome, the sun will rise the next morning.
4. Take a deep breath and think of something funny. It’s hard to be nervous and truly smile at the same time.
5. Close your eyes and visualize yourself and the interviewer enjoying the process.
6. Think back to an incident in your life when, in spite of your nervousness, you pushed forward and had a positive experience.
7. Victor Borge said, “Humor is the shortest distance between two people.” Prior to the interview, think of a few anecdotes or funny short stories that might be shared at an appropriate moment in the interview.
Below are three suggestions you can use during the interview to help you connect with the interviewer:
1. Focus your attention on the interviewer and not yourself. Be a good listener. Encourage the interviewer to talk about him or herself. Find out:
• How long has the individual been with the company?
• What is the thing the person likes most about working for the company?
• Which companies did the interviewer work at prior to joining this company?
2. If possible, find out in advance if the interviewer has any interests or hobbies. If you can’t find out before the interview, look around his/her office to see if you can see pictures, plaques or trophies that might initiate a conversation. Talk in terms of the interviewer’s interests.
3. Focus on what you can do to make the interview a great experience for both you and the interviewer.
By putting into practice these 10 suggestions, you will set the stage for a connection to occur. Once that connection takes place, you will separate yourself from the other résumés on the interviewer’s desk and the other people under consideration.
“Steve, once a résumé has passed an initial screening, the candidates are equal,” Marty repeated before we said goodbye. “Whoever makes the best connection in the interview process will get the job offer.”