I started my 12-year career at Google in 2006, where I held positions as chief of staff and executive business partner. Before that, I worked at Amazon as an executive business partner to Jeff Bezos.
After spending so much time with some of the world’s most successful and influential leaders, I learned what to look for in new candidates. Bezos hired me on the spot after my first interview with him in 2002.
Based on the hundreds of interviews I’ve done in my decades-long career, here are my top tips for how to immediately impress a hiring manager during a job interview:
1. Tell unforgettable stories about your hobbies and interests.
People I hired or worked with at Google were proud of the fact that they were odd. Outside of work, they did interesting things, knew a lot, and were passionate about things. But they didn’t just say things like “I like to garden” or “I love making furniture.” Instead, they would explain in a thoughtful and interesting way how they came to love or be interested in something.
For example, a candidate who loved to rock climb talked about how it was important to her because her dad had always wanted to climb Mount Everest but never got the chance to. Now, that’s one of her goals in life. No matter what your interests or hobbies are, tell a story or talk about an experience that will make your interviewer remember you.
2. Talk about what you don’t know but are eager to learn.
No one wants to hire someone who thinks they know everything. One of the most common mistakes job applicants make is to talk too much about what they’re good at. For me, that’s a red flag that shows they’d rather stay in their comfort zone and play it safe than try new things and take risks. Talk about the things you want to get better at, the skills you want to learn, and the big goals you want to achieve one day.
3. Use teamwork words like “we” and “my team.”
It’s easy to say that you work well with others. There’s no way for a hiring manager to tell whether you have teamwork and collaboration skills. But when you say “I” too much, it immediately indicates that you can get easily distracted by trying to keep score of your wins and get individual credit.
Highlighting team successes, not personal ones, is a far more sophisticated and rare skill set. Make it a point to say, “We accomplished [X]” or “My team did a great job doing [X].”
4. Talk about ideas that didn’t work.
Google is famous for quickly scraping projects that don’t work early on. We celebrated our failures because it was an opportunity to learn and be better. Instead of feeling discouraged, the best employees are energized and motivated by their failures. So share examples of times when you’ve had to pivot from a passion project and apply what you learned to a new one. This will be seen as an asset, not a failure.
5. Go beyond the job description and have a vision of the future.
The last thing a manager wants to hear is a repeat of the job description they wrote up. Three years into working at Google, I entered former CEO Eric Schmidt’s office to take the next step in my career. I told him I was ready to be chief of staff.
I put together a roadmap of what the role could look like and how I could develop the skills to take the company to the next level. I’m not saying you should pitch a completely different job title in the interview. The point is to show that you have a vision of your role in a year or two.
Ann Hiatt is a Silicon Valley veteran with 15 years of experience working as an executive business partner for Jeff Bezos, Marissa Mayer, and Eric Schmidt. Ann just started a consulting company with CEO clients all over the world.
There, she uses the lessons she learned at Amazon and Google about innovation, ambition, growth at scale, and leadership that looks ahead. She is also the author of “Bet on Yourself: Recognize, Own, and Implement Breakthrough Opportunities.”
Courtesy: CNBC International