One of the aspects I really enjoy while I am conducting an interview with a leader in a career transition is looking for a unique connection to break the ice and to make the time more comfortable for myself and the people I interview. I have met many interesting people and have had amazing conversations by digging a little deeper and being a little more attentive to the details.
I interview executives and leaders from all over the country, with a wide range of industry backgrounds and with a wide spectrum of experience, compensation levels and interests – so it is not difficult to take that extra step and find out something that you have in common and help create conversation.
Career Builder has a great article for job seekers and it encourages them to find a connection with someone in the company they want to get hired by:
“Job seekers are shooting themselves in the feet all because they’re not giving just a small amount of extra effort. Create a connection between you and the job, company, industry or leadership, and you increase your chances of an interview and an offer.
As you begin your research on a prospective employer, keep an eye out for any clues that could lead to a personal connection with someone in the company. “
As the interviewer, this is beneficial to you as well, because it brings out an extra spark in the person you are interviewing. You get to see a part of their personality that maybe you wouldn’t have before and you may even have a networking opportunity you did not realize was before you.
For me, it has been fun to connect people with different aspects of my life for instance:
-If you are from Florida, I grew up in Orlando and most of my family lives in that area. I am in Cincinnati, so I always enjoy talking about the beach and the beautiful weather!
-If you are anywhere in the South, you more than likely have a tie to football and the SEC (Southeastern Conference), so I might make reference to attending the University of Alabama or you may catch me throwing in a Roll Tide here and there! If you really love Alabama, I could let you know that my dad played for the “Bear” or that I have two brother-in-laws that played there or that I worked in the football office for 5 years.
-If you have any Cajun influence in your past or present, I may throw in a South Louisiana reference like how yummy boudin is, how strange your last names are or how you guys spell “go” – geaux, because my brother played football for the Ragin Cajuns and I have family in that very unique cultural area.
-Maybe you aren’t into SEC football, but you are a Notre Dame grad or a graduate of a ND rival, I can chat about this too because my husband graduated from ND and played drums in the marching band.
It is amazing how I have connected with different people and have also been introduced to people through my interviewees due to our conversations outside the typical “interview” format. There are other ways I connect with people as well, listening to comments they might make about their family, picking up on their views about life and being attentive to their interests.
Think through these questions and see what you can find out about the people you are interviewing or those you are being interviewed by:
- Where are they from originally?
- What University did they attend?
- What University or College did their spouse or children attend?
- Where do they volunteer?
- What areas of life outside of their work do they highlight in their resume or bio that you too might have a connection or general interest?
- Why do they live where they are?
- Are they into sports? If so, is there a common interest you can identify?
- Do you know other people in their industry you could help with in their networking efforts?