Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | August 3, 2010

Hidden Interviews: Top 5 Tips to Make the Write Impression

Hidden Interviews: Top 5 Tips to Make the Write Impression

Hidden interview, what hidden interview? Are they legal? Why didn’t anyone tell me about them? You’re already great at getting ready for the big interview or an important meeting with the potential client. You know what to wear, the questions to ask, how to share your passion and expertise. But, how do you prepare for the hidden interview?

In the process of lining up an important interview or meeting, there is often a hidden interview being conducted. Whether you get the meeting with the potential new client or an interview for the great job opportunity may depend on how well you do on your hidden interviews.

During the course of sending emails, completing online forms, you are being interviewed. Does your writing give them confidence in your abilities? Does it support good business practices? Does it tell them you are the best person to work with? Do your writing skills match your expertise? Do your writing skills make a good impression?

If you don’t do well on the hidden interviews, most likely you will not have the opportunity to show off your expertise during an in person meeting or interview. Here are the top 5 tips to excel on your hidden interviews.

1. Keep It Short: The person you are communicating with is overloaded with messages and material to read. They have to navigate through a lot of poorly written material from long-winded senders. Making yours short, concise, and clear will make you stand out from the crowd. This is not the time to tell them everything you think they should know about you or your business. Get write to the point, and impress your reader with your ability to be clear and concise. You are more likely to move on to the next step of the process than a sender who has rambled, failed to make their main point clear, or confused the reader.

2. Familiar Words: Over the years business convinced us that we need to trot out the big words to impress people. That time has come and gone, readers respond better to familiar words. Unfamiliar words make our reader stumble as they think about what the word means, and distracts them from our main point. Acronyms and abbreviations have the same effect. If you must use them, define their first use, even if you are positive the reader knows what it means. Once we lose a reader’s attention, we rarely get it back. Keep it simple and your reader will keep reading.

3. GPS (Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling): You won’t reach your destination without using your GPS. Slipshod attention to simple writing basics tells the reader that they, the job, or new business opportunity is not important to us and forces them to question our capabilities. Errors don’t sell. A few eighth-grade grammar blunders and our reader discounts everything we have written, and they quickly write us off.

4. Proofreading: Neglecting to proofread your email, an online form, or any other written material is a major error and you can instantly lose credibility. Would you want to work with a person who won’t take time to write well, who doesn’t think you are worth the time it takes to proofread? Readers will focus on errors, not the content. Careless writing errors may lead the reader to believe there are also errors in the facts. Remember spell check cannot correct word choice errors. It doesn’t know if you should use “your” or “you’re”, so make sure you know which word is the correct choice in each sentence. If what you are writing isn’t worth the time to proofread, maybe it isn’t worth sending.

5. Subject Line: A good subject line will make your email stand out from the crowd. Your recipient receives an endless stream of emails with subject lines like: resume, proposal, let’s meet, requested information, etc. Make your subject line specific and useful. Instead of “resume,” clearly identify it; Jane Dominguez Resume: CEO position. Clearly highlight the main purpose of your message. Instead of “business proposal”, use something like: ABC Co.’s Solution for Building Customer Loyalty. If you are writing to set up a meeting, or confirm one, make it clear in the subject line, adding dates and times if appropriate. Because everyone receives countless emails, it is imperative to create a subject line that makes it easy for the reader to find later. If a hiring manager is looking for the people who responded to a specific job opening, and yours is clearly identified, and easy to find, you are more likely to get the opportunity to move to the next step of the hiring process. Your potential client will appreciate being able to easily locate your message after receiving an avalanche of other emails. Make the write impression and increase the number positive responses you receive.

What makes the write impression on you? Please share your responses in the comment section.

Write Well – Write Results




  1. Excellente as usual, Jane! Of course, you are always on your A game when it comes to writing, which is what makes you, you!

  2. You make some terrific points, Jane! I base my initial decisions about people’s writing prowess on how carefully they communicate in emails and handwritten notes. I also believe that hiring managers are instinctively drawn to candidates who use the writing skills you explain above–they may not realize that your concise, well-punctuated writing are drawing them in–but they DO know they want to take the time to know you better!

    • Marisa, you’re right, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Indeed, hiring managers will be drawn to clear and concise many times without defining it. It’s like being drawn to people with the “it” factor, we can’t always quanitiy it, but we know it’s there. Job hunting is tough, and there is a lot competition in the current economy, and I think many jobseekers would be surprised by the impact of a well-written email.

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