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Name-dropping during interviews
January 19, 2014, 11:13 am

One behaviour that can rub interviewers the wrong way and backfire is name-dropping – the practice of mentioning important people during a conversation as a means of impressing others. According to recruiters, dropping names unasked or without tact can come across as egoistic and pretentious and might show up the candidate as insecure. Savvy job seekers who recognize the value of knowing someone at a hiring company, also know how to drop names discreetly; here are a few of their ideas.

Be discreet: Wait to share names until you have created sufficient rapport and you can name-drop in response to a question. For instance, if asked how you heard about a job, talk about how you spoke with person X at a recent networking event and their willingness to share career advice really made a good impression on you.

Remember that context matters: Bringing up the name of a mutual friend with reference to the job opening or workplace is appropriate. On the other hand, bragging about a person with no ties to the department or a higher-up professional crosses the line from confidence to arrogance.

Keep it believable: If you go too far, people may think that youare a narcissist — excessively preoccupied with power or prestige.

Use sparingly: Dropping too many names may convey that you’re a network fanatic. You also really risk coming off as arrogant.

Demonstrate forethought: If you plan on mentioning a mutual connection, let him or her know ahead of time in case the interviewer decides to contact the individual. Also, keep in mind that you have no clue how an interviewer will perceive your mutual connection. If the interviewer thinks favorably of the name you dropped, it could increase your chances of making a good impression. Conversely, the interviewer might be put off by your contact. Ask yourself if broadcasting the name is worth the risk.

Do your homework: Remember that demonstrating knowledge about a company’s latest earning reports or key strategic initiatives will do more for your image than broadcasting who you know in the firm. We’ve all heard the saying, “It is not what you know, it is who you know.” Name-dropping, if carefully deployed can lead to positive results. On the other hand, too much bravado can cross the fine line between confidence and arrogance and derail career aspirations. Whether you are participating in a job interview or professional networking event, remember the formula for success includes keeping your ego in check, being conservative, and proceeding with a delicately.

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