Pressure doesn’t come more highly charged than trying to ‘be interesting’. Whether it’s for a first date or a job interview, being interesting is one of the most subjective tasks in the world. After all, every single one of us have different interests. So how do you appear interesting for an interviewer you’ve never even met before?
Below are 7 ways to convince an employer that you’re the one to keep instead of making them fall asleep
You might say it’s impossible to teach someone to be interesting. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Some people might have a thousand stories to tell, born from visiting hundreds of countries and countless events across the globe. Surely they will be more interesting than you? Not always. In fact, probably the most important element of being interesting isn’t the story itself, but the way it is communicated.
1. Communication Techniques
How you tell your ‘stories’ or present your ideologies is a big factor in keeping an audience engaged and interested. If I spent 20 minutes telling you about a volunteer course I attended in Hawaii, where a volcano spontaneously erupted, it sounds like it will be an epic, right? But if I told it in a monotonous, emotionless way, I guarantee people will soon lose interest. None of your senses will find it appealing.
You would be surprised just how much a dreary vocal tone can kill the most exciting subjects.
If we flip the idea and I told you a boring story about visiting the shops, but I told it with a thrilling intonation and verve in my voice, making passionate hand gestures and actively involved you in the tale itself, then your engagement level will be much higher. So the way we speak is almost as important as what we speak about.
Always ensure you talk with clarity and avoid talking too fast. Nerves can cause people to raise the tempo of their speech quite a lot but, in an interview situation (where you should be elaborating and showcasing your experience and skills) talking a little slower can help drive the point home better.
2. Body Language
A commonly overlooked factor at interviews is your body language. The way you hold yourself has a surprising effect on the way you are perceived. Even if the interviewer isn’t an expert in reading body language, there are certain things you must maintain and avoid:
Eye contact – The most powerful tool in any situation. Eye contact portrays engagement, sincerity and trust. Believe it or not, we listen with our eyes as well as our ears – so acknowledging what they are saying through maintained eye contact is vital.
Hand gestures – Making some hand gestures when you’re talking is a good thing. Nobody wants a wooden dummy. Show and tell when explaining any points you have.
Smiling – Smiles make people relax, instill humanity and promote that first bit of chemistry with any new person you meet. Make sure the smiling is appropriate though – don’t wear a goofy grin all through the interview. When things are serious, be serious.
Slouching – your posture in an interview situation is the silent seller of your personality. Sit up straight and keep both feet firmly on the ground.
Folding arms – Folding your arms can convey a closed or timid personality (especially in an interview situation). Employers are seeking confident, outgoing individuals most of the time, so rest your hands on your lap – or on the desk should you be sitting forwards.
Yawning/chewing – An obvious one but worth including. If you popped a chewing gum in your mouth prior to interview, either dispose of it before you enter the room or don’t chew on it. Again, yawning at your potential future employer, whether you hide it with your hand or not, is bad manners. Avoid this by drinking a lot of water and getting a good night’s sleep.
For a more in-depth look at the effects of your body language in an interview situation, check out our specific article on how body language might be preventing you from getting a job.
Most job interviews will require formal attire: suits, shirts/blouses, ties etc. Making sure your outfit is well-fitting rather than baggy or too tight gives off a much more professional image. Suits are ten a penny these days too, with highstreet stores often selling two-piece offerings for less than £99 (often including a free pair of shoes).
The opportunity to show a zing of your personality comes in the form of accessories. As a girl, wearing a conservative, professional outfit, but accessorising with the odd flash of colour (whether a belt, bag or bangle) will make you stand out.
As a man, having well polished shoes, wearing a striking, but not luminous, tie and donning an eye-catching watch (avoid going too blingy though), will set you apart from the crowd and visually express your individuality.
Possibly the most daunting of subjects to most people and the one that begs that important question of ‘am I interesting?’. Your hobbies tell someone a lot about you and define you as a person.
Whatever you choose to do in your free time is likely to be a passion/serious interest that you obviously enjoy and is close to your heart. Employers like to hear more than just ‘the gym’ or ‘eating’ for this part.
If you’re sat pondering what hobbies you have that are interesting, write them all down and then pick out the most ‘unusual’ ones. If you’re a member of any sports clubs, societies or charities, they are worth a mention.
Employers like to see some depth in potential candidates, whether that comes in the form of a black belt in Karate or an award in Extreme Ironing (yes that is an actual thing) is down to you.
Don’t invent a hobby that you think is interesting though, as you are bound to get found out at some point. Being a little bit boring is better than being a liar. Although with the use of networking these days, it wouldn’t hurt to have a nosey at who might be interviewing you on LinkedIn and seeing if they give away any of their own hobbies. People do like talking about themselves after all.
Leading on from the last point, conducting your own research into the person and the company beforehand is a no-brainer. Aside from looking like a smarty pants and showing an impressive knowledge of the company’s history, research provides you with a solid foundation to build upon when showing your passion and dedication to the role. This, to any employer, is interesting.
If you are able to talk on a certain level with them about the company, almost as if you have worked there already, it gives you a huge psychological advantage. It will make the interviewer feel familiar and comfortable with you, which is half the battle in the first place.
By utilising social media, LinkedIn being the advised one (Facebook stalking is never cool), you are able to see how the employer got to where they are, how they started out and what career changes they have faced. Again, not only does this help you to understand your own career progression/path, but it also inadvertently gets them to talk about themselves again.
Don’t view their LinkedIn profile more than once though, as they will receive notifications every time you do!
Just like attire, this too can be subjective to the vocation. However, more often than not, it pays to have examples of your work to take along to interview. Apart from showing initiative, it gives the employer a chance to see how you have implemented the skills you talk about on your CV into real world tasks. Remember the ‘show and tell’ line from earlier?
This is particularly useful if you’re a graphic designer, writer or generally work in the creative/marketing sector. Showing off your artwork, campaigns and publications are all relevant and, guess what, interesting. Turning up to an interview without a portfolio is like turning up to an exam without a pen.
With the cost of ink and paper these days too, it pays to supply them with copies to keep hold of. By doing this, you are leaving marketing collateral for yourself all over their desk. This means that, as a candidate, you are likely to remain in their subconscious for longer and create a better image.
If the bulk of your work can be found online, then simply providing them with links is also beneficial. Just don’t link them to a poem you wrote on your Facebook status. Self-publishing is, most of the time, considered a sin. Self-publishing on Facebook and then citing it is unforgivable.
7. Element of Mystery
If you pardon the second dating reference in this article (dating your interviewer is never usually a good idea by the way), having a sense of mystery about you can provoke an instant attraction.
From the eyes of an employer, knowing your hobbies, goals, skills etc. are all relevant and applicable attributes that are considered the ‘standards’ of candidate vetting. But keeping your personal life generally under wraps is always good advice. Yes people, I’m talking about Facebook again.
Set your profile as private and don’t add anyone from your potential new company until you have successfully got the job (and even then it’s not recommended). Why? Well, just like you researched them on LinkedIn, they will have researched you too.
The last picture you want a potential employer seeing is that one of you on Blackpool waterfront drinking your 16th pint whilst eating sand because the chippy was closed with no trousers on wearing armbands. Social media is a gift and a curse, so make sure you manage it correctly to stop it from cursing every interview you attend.
The Last Word
By combining the 7 points listed above, you are well on your way to becoming the interviewer’s favourite person. There is no, one technique to being interesting, but there are small changes you can make to your appearance (fashion and posture) and lifestyle (hobbies and communication) that will have a big effect.
By relaxing in the interview you will come across more genuine and personable too. This is easier said than done when nerves take hold, but after 5 minutes or so of talking, your confidence should start to increase and you will slowly come into your own.
The key is not to try too hard to be interesting. If you list off 20 eccentric hobbies, wear a lime green tie and over-do the body language, it will look forced, contrived and just plain odd. The trick is to show glimmers of charisma, sparking intrigue and thus evoking an informal conversation on subjects you find mutually interesting. Informal conversations build friendships. Typically, friends hire friends.