Sometimes job hunting inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places!  Today, while driving to an appointment, I heard a radio advertisement for the Boston Medical Group that almost perfectly demonstrated two very powerful interview techniques that I often suggest my clients use to give themselves a competitive advantage.  Who is the Boston Medical Group, exactly?  Well, errr, they’re a medical practice that apparently helps men deal with erectile dysfunction issues…

*** Important disclaimer: The author of this post is neither in need of such services or seeking information about said services; this truly was just something he heard, in passing, on the radio!

So what were the techniques in question?  Well, first of all, the advertisement started out by saying something along the lines of “did you know that over 50% of men DON’T have a positive result using Viagra and similar medications?”  This statement is a classic example of the “FUD technique” that is infamous within professional sales circles — and that can be tremendously effective in the interview process, should you choose to employ it.  The FUD concept (as I elaborated on in an earlier post, here) stands for spreading “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” about your competition.  In this case, recognizing that most men with the issues in question would first consider taking a pill like Viagra, before consulting a group like Boston Medical, the savvy doctors (or their advertising agency) realized that the clinic’s success depended on being able to knock the front-runners — Viagra and Cialis — down a few pegs.  Frankly, I think this was a stroke of brilliance.  I’m not sure about you, but I would have assumed (again, as a completely impartial observer) that various drugs such as Viagra would typically have a much higher success rate than the statistic claimed in this ad.  And while I have no idea whether the facts being cited in this radio spot are true, the advertisement still did its job by making me question an assumption that I more or less took for granted.

So how does this translate into an interview scenario?  Again, my earlier post goes into more depth about this, but it’s roughly the same as an underdog candidate saying “While I’d imagine you have tons of applicants who have already worked in your industry, for a direct competitor, I’d suspect some of these ‘industry insiders’ will be bringing some bad habits along with them that will be hard to break — whereas I’d be looking for you to teach me how you want things done, your way, from the ground up.”  Or another FUD example might be “Although I realize I don’t have advanced education in the XYZ field, like some of the candidates you’re likely considering, I’m proud to say that I bring 15 years of hands-on work experience to the party — and that my approach to the challenges of this assignment would likely be much more pragmatic, versus clinical or academic in nature.”  Again, if you know that you don’t stack up as well on paper as some candidates, this technique is your best bet of leveling the playing field.  If you don’t take the opportunity to spread a little bit of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the capabilities of your most qualified (on paper) rivals, you’re basically giving the employer the green light to go the safe route and hire your competition!

What’s the second statement the Boston Medical Group advertisement made, reflecting an important interview technique?  Near the end of the ad, they came right out and said “You’ll see results in your very first visit!”  This equates to a job seeker making a promise…or a guarantee…or a claim with great conviction that they can easily prove how good they are, if given the opportunity.  It’s the opposite of implying you might be able to get results or hinting that, if hired, you might turn out to a be a great hire for the job.  Instead, you offer to prove, quickly and beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you can get the job done.  You might, for example, ask the interviewer to give you an assignment that will prove your competency, even before they decide to hire you.  Or you might proactively bring in a work sample or do a whiteboard exercise related to the company’s needs.  Or you might look the hiring manager straight in the eye and say “there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to tackle the issue of X,Y, or Z for you within 90 days, if hired.”  The point is that employers, just like consumers, are heavily influenced by these kinds of bold claims.  They’re impressed by people who stand behind their product and exhibit a little chutzpah.  So in the case of the Boston Medical Group, I’m sure there are some skeptics out there who would initially think “I don’t really believe that this firm can help me, but hey, if they guarantee I’ll see results in my very first visit, what do I have to lose?”

Again, this might be the weirdest source of interviewing advice I’ve ever drawn upon in my coaching career, but I couldn’t help but share it since I immediately recognized these two techniques in play — the FUD approach and the “guarantee” gambit — when I heard them used in this radio commercial!  So kudos to you, Boston Medical Group.  I hope I never need your services, but if I ever do, you’ve certainly planted a powerful seed in my mind and convinced me you might offer a viable solution…