I walked into my daughter’s bedroom last week. On the floor, she had 4 piles of Thistle Blocks. The type of blocks, quite honestly, is irrelevant. But, for those who are interested, they are plastic colored soft blocks with bristles that interlock to form a connection.

Anyhow, on the floor were 4 piles of these Thistle blocks – red, yellow, blue and black. Being the cool dad that I am, I quickly sat down on the floor, grabbed several blocks and put them together. I figured this would be a fun way to spend some time with my little girl.

Oh, no. Before I could comfortably sit “criss-cross applesauce,” I was completely reprimanded for mixing up the piles. Apparently, we are in the sorting stage and she was separating the blocks by color. Matching colors were placed in like piles, and were not to be mixed with non-matching pieces.

It occurred to me at that moment that we are trained from a very early age to find matches. We learn that some things just go together.

Dating sites reference the unique personality traits that help to make a match. Chefs talk about blending aromas with tastes to create flavor matches. Designers are delighted when we match colors or styles, and companies succeed when they find the right candidate to match their environment. When the match is right, incidentally, the candidate also finds success.

So, what is it that really makes a match?

“Match” (not the flammable tipped, slender piece of wood or cardboard) is defined as a person or thing that equals or resembles another in some respect; a corresponding, suitably associated, or harmonious pair.” (Dictionary.com)

Well that’s pretty subjective. If your qualifications are equal to that of another candidate, and both of you are interviewing for the same position, who will be chosen for the opportunity? I’ll bet it’ll be the person who best matched what the interviewer was seeking…beyond qualifications.

There are great ways to increase your likelihood of being selected as the best match for any organization for which you’re interviewing.

Be personable. It’s not enough to just have good answers to interview questions. Pay attention to non-verbal cues, and refer to the person, often, by the name used at introduction. A nod or a smile from your interviewer could indicate that you are providing an answer that he/she is seeking. Adding a simple personalized response could be the underlying connection you seek. For instance, “I’m sure you can appreciate this, Bob. I was in a situation…” is more conversational than, “This time, I had a problem…” The right choice of verbiage and how you articulate your thoughts will emphasize your overall message and likely lead to a match on an interpersonal level.

Mirror what you see. Clearly, professional dress and overall presentation are important, so interviewing in attire that matches that of the folks in front of you, is ideal. Image and branding are major pieces of any successful organization. Make sure that you consider how you present yourself (posture, clothing, expressions, energy level, etc.) throughout the interview process. You want the right match so you can get the most out of your experience with that company.

Gather Information. By searching a company’s website or running a few browser searches, you can usually find organizations, networks, affiliations and/or charitable groups for which that company aligns itself. Also, check out social media for existing employees of the company. A little homework can go a long way. You may find current employees are alumnus of a particular school or group. You may also get some insight into the culture of the organization.

When it comes to interviewing, information really is power. If you are well prepared, you will be able to speak to any topic related to the job and/or organization. It’s a much better position than simply winging it and, ultimately, you’ll give yourself a better chance of being the right match for the company.

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