3 Ways To Sell Your Brand In Interviews – Part 1
The new year is traditionally a time for reflection (although I’m not one for making new years’ resolutions, knowing myself too well to think I’ll ever keep to them) and often that reflection concerns work:
- Am I happy in my job?
- Is my career going anywhere?
- What should I be doing to develop myself?
For many people, that reflection will, in turn, lead them to look for another job and – if all goes swimmingly – they’ll be invited for an interview*.
How can you make sure you stand out from the other candidates?
The answer lies in your personal brand, because while ‘what’ you have on your CV might be similar to others’, when you add in the individuality of ‘who’ you are, you create a magic mix of a USP (Unique Selling Point). And who wouldn’t want to use that to their advantage?
So here is the first of three ways you can sell your personal brand in interviews. (Parts 2 and 3 will follow.)
Tip 1: Sell your personal brand before the interview starts
If you can form a connection with the interviewer before, or as soon as, you meet, you can start to stack the odds of getting the job in your favour. The key to doing that is to use ‘relationship hooks’.
Relationship hooks are incredibly useful for communicating your brand to others because they do two things at once:
1. Revealing something personal gives people a hook to grab onto so they can have a conversation with you on a personal level, not just a business one – and therefore build your relationship much quicker.
2. The hook can also give subliminal messages that reinforce your brand.
3 ways to put those hooks out there
The prime place to insert one or two relationship hooks is in the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile. (Because you’ve got one…right? If not, you can sign up for my free LinkedIn guide via the homepage.) That way, people can start to see you as a human being they can connect to, before they even meet you.
For instance, you could mention that you ran the London Marathon (which you must have done – your hooks can’t be made up). Not only does it provide a hook for a future conversation – and if you’re really lucky, you’ll find the interviewer is also a runner – it also suggests you’re someone who’s goal orientated, driven and focused – giving extra clues to your brand.
The next place you could throw out a relationship hook is when the interviewer comes to get you from reception. Once they’ve introduced themselves, they’ll usually ask one of those throwaway questions like, “How was your journey?” or “Did you find our office OK?”
Instead of simply answering with “Fine thanks” or “Yes thanks” you should be seeing this as another opportunity to build rapport by throwing out a hook.
So if you’re asked about your journey, you could say, “It took an hour, but it flew by because I’m reading a really great book at the moment.” They’ll naturally ask what you’re reading and your answer will provide another relationship hook. (And if Lady Luck is shining down on you, they’ll have the same taste in literature.)
Relationship hooks aren’t just there to be thrown by you. They’re also something to seek out from others (whether the person has put them there purposely or inadvertently).
For instance, the interviewer may be wearing cuff-links in the shape of a rugby ball (so you can ask if that’s their sport of choice). Or they may be wearing a FitBit on their wrist (so you can ask if they’re into health and fitness). Or they may have a painting of a boat on their office wall (so you can ask if they’re into sailing).
They’re all ways to keep building that rapport before the interview begins in earnest.
One last piece of advice
It’s important to think carefully about which hooks you’re going to put out there. This isn’t about chucking any old bit of personal trivia into the ring; it’s about thinking, ‘How do I want to shape people’s views of me and which relationship hooks can do that?’
In Part 2 of this short series, we’ll look at how to approach your interview answers.
*I’ve also written previously about what not to do in an interview, so you might want to take a quick read of that too.
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