How to Name-Drop in an Interview

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Name-dropping, the process of mentioning highly placed connections during a job interview, can be a risky strategy. On the one hand, if you do it right and having connections is important to the job, it can make you more likely to get an offer. On the other hand, if you do it inappropriately, it may immediately turn off the person interviewing you and lead directly to a rejection. To make sure you only name-drop when it’s going to help you, keep the following in mind:

– Present the names in the proper context. A hiring manager is most interested in what you can bring to the company, not the people you know. So if you’re going to name-drop, only do it in the context of how you can help the company. If the people you know are going to be an asset to the company, then present them that way and be matter-of-fact about it.

– Time it right. Don’t lead by name-dropping. Wait until you and the interviewer have already established a rapport, then look for an opportunity. If you know someone at the company, for instance, it would be natural to talk about them if you’re asked what made you interested in the job you’re applying for.

– Use it as a garnish. Overdoing name-dropping can make you come off as arrogant, insecure, or obsessed with prestige. It can also lead the person interviewing you to feel like you’re trying to one-up them or go over their head. Be as sparing with name-dropping as you would be with a particularly potent spice when you’re cooking.

– Clear it with your connection first. If you drop the name of someone your interviewer knows, it’s almost as if you’ve listed that person as a reference. Make sure they’re willing to acknowledge the connection and that they’re inclined talk positively about you before you drop their name, or else your strategy could backfire.

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