Win Over Non-Technical Interviewers in 4 Steps

March 12th, 2015 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

NonTechnical People

Ever tried speaking your native tongue in a foreign country? The language barrier was probably tough. Now imagine that foreign country is a job interview with a non-technical interviewer. Sure, you’re being heard, but is the nuance of your hyper-technical jargon falling short in an instance where communication is key?

That’s why careful preparation is all the more important when trying to convey your technical value to a non-technical interviewer.

Get to Know Your Interviewer

Never parachute blind into new territory; always know the lay of the land before you arrive. In an interview, that means doing extensive research on every aspect of the interview process: including the person who will be interviewing you.

Will your interviewer comprehend in-depth technical jargon? Safe bet is that a technical lead or department supervisor will, but even a technically-inclined hiring manager might be lost in the minutia.

They won’t be oblivious to the basics. Yet leaping down the rabbit hole of tech lingo may leave them feeling adrift in Wonderland. So, when you’re preparing for the interview, focus more on the results than the methodology.

Target Your Keywords

Most non-technical interviewers are at least briefed on the major talking points. How do you know which ones to use? Take a look at the official job description.

All of the essential keywords are included in the requirements and text of job description itself. That gives you free license to use those keywords in conversation. In fact, non-technical interviewers are going to be listening up for certain keywords. And as long as you aren’t repeating the keywords ad nauseam out of context, more is better.

Show Them a Good ROI

A good interviewer answers the big question that is gnawing at any employer’s mind: “What value can you provide our company?” They won’t know first-hand until you get the job, but you can show them how the skills behind all your technical jargon are a good return on investment (ROI).

Tangible success is what wins an interview. Your code structures might be so sharp and compact they can slice the wings off a gnat but if employers can’t see the results, they won’t be impressed.

Quantifiable results (revenue growth, productivity increases, waste reduction, etc.) are the language that hiring managers and employers speak. Numbers and percentages are universal, and it’s hard not to impress a layman when you’ve earned your company $20M with healthcare application or increase workplace productivity 65% in a year with your VMware powered virtual infrastructure.

Respect Goes a Long Way

The overall key to talking to a non-technical interviewer is not to go over their heads while not talking down with them. Treat them with respect, use the right keywords, and show incredible end results. You’ll be speaking the only language they need to hear: that of an irresistible candidate who needs to be part of their team.

by James Walsh

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