If you want just one thing from an interview, it's that the interviewer will ask you back.

If you want a second thing, it's to know whether or not you want to work there--do you like the people, the culture, and everything else about this office?

What not to do in an interview.

Most people undermine both goals by trying to show off. Telling an interviewer about your features feels like it should work, but since everyone does it, you all end up looking like  undifferentiated commodities.

That strategy asks an interviewer to look at you all like cans of corn on the grocery shelf or used cars in a lot and to pick the cheapest one.

If you're selling yourself and your labor, do you want to sound like a used car salesperson?

What to do.

Anyone who sells high-end goods and services knows to create a human, emotional connection. Learn the customers' interests and needs.

If you want your interviewer to see you as a desirable choice, not the cheapest one, create a human, emotional connection.


I've coached enough people in how to create a meaningful connection that it's second-nature. Case in point: my onboarding interview at Inc.

After the interview, I noticed I had automatically created a two-way dialogue instead of just answering questions.

Many interviewers ask you about your interest in the workplace--why you would like working there. You can ask them the same question.

You can rephrase the question to suit the context, but the gist is as follows.

Question 1: Ask the interviewer, "Why do you like working here?"

The person across from you is a human being with cares, desires, drives, etc. If the two of you met elsewhere, you'd talk to him or her like a person, not an interviewer.

You can here, too.

You'll lead the interviewer to see you more as a three-dimensional person. He'll talk about what he likes, which will lead him to want to talk more, which will lead him to want you back.

If the interviewer has a hard time telling you what he or she likes about the company, you learn you might not want the job--important information.

Question 2: Ask the interviewer, "We're all busy people. I'm curious, what about my background led you to invite me in?"

If an interviewer is spending time and resources on you, she must think there's something about you that meets the company's needs. Her answer tells you two things:

1) Her interests, which helps you negotiate.

2) What she likes about you, which tells you what about yourself to accentuate. Then, instead of looking like a commodity, you can become a custom solution.

What I did.

I described what I did, referencing a recent client also in an interviewing process:

Onboarding and negotiation interviews are different from a first interview, but the principles of creating human connections through leading the dialogue work in all these cases.

The results.

  • You are seen as a human, not a can of corn or a used car.
  • The interviewer wants to keep talking to you, meaning you're wanted back.
  • You know more about the interviewer. You see the interviewer as human. You can decide if you want to work there.
  • You can hit the ground running if you choose to work there by knowing more about the team you're joining.