I could never count the number of people I have interviewed in my years of recruiting; many, many people. I’ve shaken many hands, caught many colds, asked many questions. Every once in a while, I have a candidate whom I’ve met in the past contact me again. Sometimes they start out with “I’m not sure if you remember me, but…”. Based on pure numbers, the answer is usually no. I’m one of those people that can read a book and then read it again a few years later. I don’t remember the details of the plot, but I remember if it was a good book or not. I really like F. Scott Fitzgerald, but The Great Gatsby, in my mind, is about a guy who lives someplace on Long Island named after an egg (am I right?..I don’t remember). One of the better books I don’t remember.
I think that sometimes it’s the same with candidates. Last year, a candidate sent me an e-mail that asked if I was still recruiting at Microsoft. He shared his resume, which looked great. I forwarded it on to a hiring team (that I knew via their blog). After he was hired, he and I had lunch and I asked how we had originally met. He started to tell me about a conversation we had in 2001 that involved Afghanistan. I know, kind of a random thing. But when he said that, I remembered that conversation and I remember feeling positively about him as a candidate as we were speaking. The Afghanistan thing was just the trigger that helped me remember the conversation about his work experience.
This just made me think about how, as candidates, sharing some personal trivia can help you make an impression. You don’t really have to share anything *really* personal. You might just tell your recruiter that you are a great flosser (hey, it could come up in conversation) or have a particular interest or had something funny happen to you on the way to the airport. I mean, stay away from religion, politics, anything that would be deemed inappropriate in the context of a work situation (like dating habits, or your collection of anything weird), but don’t be afraid to relate to the interviewer. Recruiters might not remember your name at first glance but they might remember you as the guy who was in a documentary about a start-up (true story) or the person that is obsessed with college football as they are (haha…as IF!).
There’s someone out there that contacted me about my blog and we got to talking about cheese. Sure don’t remember his name, but I remember the conversation. And when he contacts me, I’ll think “oh yeah, you’re the cheese guy!”. I’ve had hundreds of these kinds of conversations. That type of interactions keep recruiters like me going; actually relating to people.
I think that there’s a tendency for people to keep interviews all about business. But we know there’s a person in there. Using good judgment is key, obviously, as are good interpersonal skills (jumping up and yelling “I like berry jam!” in an interview would leave an impression but not a good one) I guess my point is that injecting a little personality into the conversation can make your interviewers relate to you and remember you.