I was talking with one of my MBA students at Wharton the other day about how to stand out in a crowd. He is graduating in May and is in the midst of job interviews, but much to his chagrin, he has not received an offer. Yet several of his classmates are gliding through the halls with smiles on their faces and signed contracts in their hands. He wanted advice on how to make a stronger impression on his interviewers. Since I cannot be in the actual interview to see what’s going on, I could only offer him suggestions on what I know about successful job candidates: they are fully present in the interview (non-verbals), they are persuasive, and they leave a positive, lasting impression.
So I asked him to give me three words that describe his unique, unlike-any-other “value proposition” (I know, jargon, but this is Wharton so it works). He looked down, he looked up, he looked down again and then said, “Wow, this is really hard. I can’t come up with just three words that fully capture my personality and skills.” I pushed some more. After a few more prompts, he decided that he was smart, creative, and gregarious. I then asked the second question, which can be just as difficult to answer: how do those qualities show up in an interview? If you can find a way to get those concepts across (without saying, “I’m smart, creative, and gregarious”) then you stand a chance of making a more powerful impression on the interviewers.
The same is true for public speakers. What three words describe the essence of you? How do you manifest those qualities in your presentations? Think about it. It’s worth the time.
– Barbara Roche