Stick to Your Interview Talking Points

In preparing for a recent job interview, I made a list of all the reasons why I was a good fit for the job based on the job description. I then brainstormed my attributes or experiences to support each point. No matter what happened, I was determined to deliver each point on my list.

I ended up not getting the job.

As it turned out, my preparation ensured that my interviewer would forget me. Though I thought I was making a great case, I was forgetting that my interviewer, like all of us, could only remember so much.

The result? A scattered pitch that offered no clear, memorable reasons for hiring me.

Later, when I brought up my regret with my friend and career coach, Vicki Lind, she gave me some excellent advice.

Give your interviewer fewer—but meatier—reasons to hire you

“Focus your interviewer’s attention on the top three or four points that make you the best person for the job,” Vicki told me. “Since you have such limited time to make the best impression that’s all you can reasonably expect to impart on your interviewer.”

Ah ha. I now saw my mistake.

“But,” I responded, “I’d feel like an over-scripted politician if I just repeated three or four talking points throughout my interview.”

“Of course,” Vicki replied patiently.

Creatively repeat your top interview talking points

“In a typical interview, you’ll have at least three times when you can build your case,” Vicki explained.

“In the beginning, there’s generally a warm-up question where you get to introduce yourself. Something like, ‘Tell me about yourself, and why you’re interested in this position.’ That’s a great opportunity to lay out your points briefly.”

“Sometime after that, you can reasonably expect a question that begins with ‘Tell me about a time when…’ and relates to a common responsibility for the position,” said Vicki. “Your anecdotes–I always encourage my clients to prepare and practice a few professional anecdotes ahead of time–will echo your earlier points without being repetitive. Because it’s the second time that your interviewer will have heard the point, he’s that much more likely to remember it later.”

Repeat your case at the end of the interview

“Finally, at the end of the interview,” according to Vicki, “Your interviewer will precede the end of the interview with a general invitation such as. ‘Is there anything else that you’d like to know or say?’”

“This is a perfect opportunity to summarize your points and reiterate why you’re such a good fit for the position, explained Vicki. “In doing so, you’ll also demonstrate that you understand the company’s needs, and how you can make an immediate and meaningful contribution to the company. By this point, your interviewer should be able to faithfully repeat your talking points to one of his coworkers.”