If you want to leave a good impression at an interview, use repetition

Oct 20, 2016

Finding a point to repeat during your interview will help your message stick

Everyone wants to make a good impression at a job interview but while most will think about how to make that impression, few will consider what they will use to make it. What I mean by this is few people will think about creating a main point to put across, one that captures the kind of impression they want to leave an interviewer with.

It is far better to prepare to make the right impression by focusing on one or two main points than to try to concentrate on everything at once. It will help to reduce ‘mistakes’ that leave you torturing yourself after an interview with thoughts like, “I should have said that,” or “I wonder if I came across as experienced as my CV shows.”

So, prepare for an interview by deciding beforehand what kind of impression you want to leave in the minds of the interviewers.  Think of it as the difference between trying to cut something with a sharp knife versus trying to cut it with a blunt one.

Repeat yourself during the interview

Tony Bendell in his book, Building Anti-Fragile Organisations, which tackles the subject of uncertainty, says the art of stressing a point is one of those systems that increases in strength with use. In other words, the more we stress something, the stronger the image formed in the minds of our listeners.

This works well in exercise – the more stress we place on a muscle the stronger it becomes. However, this does of course have its limits: if we place too much stress on a muscle it could become irreparably injured. This is a system you therefore want to use in your interview with balance.

One way to create balance, according to Bendell, is to include feedback loops. You cannot stress your point while oblivious to the feedback and needs of others. So you need to read the interviewer for clues on how he or she is responding to what you’ve said. Do the eyes of the interviewer light up? Does he or she ask you to illustrate what you’ve just said or ask for more examples? Or does he or she move on? Can you find points that are returned to over and over? This often happens when an interviewer asks the same question but in a different way. If so, these are great indications that the interviewer wants to hear more about a particular skill.


Use variety during the interview

If you kept repeating the same sentence or words over and over again you would sound like a robot, and likely annoy the interviewers, so you also need to use a variety of ways to get your message across. Just as in exercising where a muscle benefits from a variety of types of exercises in order to get the best results, you need to come at your point from different angles. Try to find at least three examples you can use to make your point.

Use intervals during the interview

Another thing you need to bear in mind is rest and frequency. That means making your point at appropriate intervals throughout the interview. For a typical hour interview you might stress your main point no more than three or four times.

Finding your interview impression point

Okay, so what do you want to stress? Start by doing your research – what are the main requirements of the job? How would you summarise the type of person the organisation is looking for? Perhaps it is the type of person who works well under pressure or someone who is innovative or a problem solver. Create the main point(s) you want to stress from what you come up with.

Also, search for common areas of interest. What you say must be relevant to what the organisation wants and is interested in. it makes sense to find things the interviewers are personally interested in too. Look for any articles the interviewers have written, at social media posts and comments, and at news articles posted on the company website.

Rehearse – practice your interview statements with a trusted friend. As you rehearse, remember to practice body language such as your smile, what you do with your hands, how you sit and making eye contact.

Write a script – when we write things down they become more deeply ingrained in our memories, so write down your scripted responses.

Listen carefully – don’t just wait for the interviewer to finish speaking so you can blurt out your scripted responses: really listen to what he or she is saying so you can reply accordingly.

Ask questions – you don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. If something captures your attention or you don’t understand a question, don’t be afraid to ask for more clarity

To summarise, if you go along to your next interview with a good idea of the main points you are going to use to make a lasting impression, you’ll stand a greater chance of that happening.

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