We’ve all had an uncomfortable interview, pausing for too long, feeling nervous, not knowing what to say, primarily because most of us have cut our teeth on economic analysis and writing reports and polishing our ever-longer CVs rather than trimming the jargon from our rhetoric and learning to speak precisely. But interviewing well is less about having years of experience and more about delivering a clear and concise message. Happily, Ben Affleck, and the NGO he founded, can teach us all a few concrete tricks.
1. Be concise (1:47). Ben sums up his organisation’s activities and his multimillion-dollar fund in six words. Can you talk about your future (or current) organisation’s mission using fewer than ten words? You can practise being concise by writing down your organisation’s/project’s activities on a sheet of paper, then cutting down words and revising your description until it’s a ten-word sentence in your own voice.
2. Use vocal emphasis to stress one proper noun (1:56-2:07). Ben uses the tonal depth of his voice – the one that made him a world-famous actor – to draw attention to the fact that his organisation works with locals. He doesn’t just call them locals, or indigenous people, or “the population on the ground;” he calls them Congolese, inspiring feelings of pride and respect for something larger than poverty or war: national unity. What population is key to the work you’re passionate about? And which adjectives would you use to describe them?
3. Talk about your heart breaking a little bit (2:47-3:02). People respond to feelings, not facts. And when Ben talks about being an old man looking back on his life, he paints a picture nearly everyone can identify with – the idea of getting old and wanting to have something that you did, that you were proud of having done. Think about how you can connect your passion to a concept to which we can universally relate.
4. Tell everyone why the job you want (or the work you’ll do) answers all of our questions about the meaning of life (3:11-3:14). Because we all wake up in the morning thinking, today I want to laugh and hug someone and feel joy and then we go to bed at night wondering, is this all there is? But if you can connect us to something bigger, and at the same time, to each other, then there is no possibility that you will not receive the standing ovation that, in itself, connects any audience with itself and the presenter. Think about the one action your passion represents, and how that makes life better – how your work can improve livelihoods, one day at a time.