Memory techniques for Interview Questions
Interviewing for a job can tax your memory. You must remember the names of your interviewers, their titles and details about the company, plus all the specifics of your own work history. Even finding the interview location taxes your short-term memory. At the same time, being nervous causes many people to forget details. A great help to your interview preparation is to boost your memory before the interview so that you can arrive confident and fully focused.
1. When researching the company, break it down into several study sessions spaced apart rather than try to learn it in a single sitting. Never cram the night before unless this is a spur-of-the-moment interview.
2. Paying attention plays a big role in information recall, as you may recall from your experiences daydreaming during high school chemistry class. Study the company in a quiet environment that’s free of distractions.
3. Pay attention to what is said during the interview. Many candidates focus so intently on what they are going to say next that they miss key pieces of information that the interviewer is giving.
4. Repeating information helps you to retain it. If you are in a panel group interview, with more than one interviewer, there are sure to be names that are new to you. Say, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Hanson,” and you’ll remember his name later.
5. Organize pieces of information into groups. Educational psychologists call this process “chunking.” The reason it helps boost your memory is simple. It’s easier to remember five groups with five items in each one than it is to remember 25 separate items. Draw a big-picture organizational chart that includes divisions and subsidiaries of the company. Then plug in the people and departments that you would be working with if you had the job. Go through the same process with the company’s products and markets, organizing each one into categories.
6. Use mnemonic devices. Association and visualization are especially effective devices to boost your memory in situations in which there’s no time for complicated strategies. Simply associate something you’re trying to remember with something else, and then visualize it. For example, if an interviewer’s name is Jim Newberger, picture your college roommate Jim eating a new burger. If you can, associate a physical feature to remember the face as well. Perhaps Jim Newberger has a full head of black hair like your college roommate. Afterwards, jot down the name as soon as possible.
7. If you have a longer time to learn information, acronyms and acrostics work well. For example, if the division in which you’re interested makes coatings, adhesives, special polymers and inks, take the first letter of each word to form the acronym CASPI. You can even visualize a friendly ghost. An acrostic using the first letter of each word might be “Cats Always Smell Pretty Interesting.”
8. Try the loci technique to boost your memory. In this method, you imagine the things you are trying to remember as objects in a familiar place. Let’s say that you want to remember the company’s satellite offices in Troy, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. You might picture Helen of Troy sitting on your living room sofa, a lance mounted on the wall of your dining room, grand rapids spilling from an overflowing kitchen sink and your cousin Ann sitting under an arbor in your back yard.
9. Keep all belongings related to the interview super-organized. This will free up your memory for more important tasks in the same way that cleaning up your computer’s hard drive frees up more memory. Rummaging through a disorganized briefcase to find a pen—or, worse, asking the interviewer for one—could kill your chances of landing the job. The interviewer will think, “If this candidate can’t even find a pen, what’s a business trip going to be like?”
Keep a few pens tucked inside your jacket pocket or in an outside pocket of your purse. Store relevant phone numbers on your computer and phone rather than on scraps of paper.
10. Practicing for the interview is one of the best ways to commit something to memory. If possible, do a practice drive to the place of the interview and use a GPS if you have one. Think of this as the equivalent of taking a practice test in school. If you get lost and arrive late, you can probably forget about getting the job even if your qualifications are top-notch.
11. Also, at least practice the 10 common interview questions and answers with someone else. Practice our list of top 10 interview trick questions and rehearse how you will handle them. Even if the interviewer surprises you with a different question, chances are that you’ve already rehearsed your response to a similar type of query.