I just read a very stimulating book by linguistics expert Nicholas Boothman, called “Convince Them in 90 Seconds.” It builds on his earlier books about connecting with people in 90 seconds or less, but in business settings such as introductions and interviews, and more.
The simile is described in this book as an I-KOLA, in other words, “I'm Kind of Like a (fill in the blank).”
The simile is effective especially in the interview because similes create pictures in the brain, and pictures are REMEMBERED so much more easily than bland strings of words.
So if you compare yourself to something lively and colorful, it is far more likely that an interviewer will remember you after he or she has sat through thirty butt-numbing interviews.
Boothman pulls out the story of an accounts receivable specialist named Najeeba in New York. Najeeba had been unemployed for ten months, had sent out 329 resumes, and sat through 74 interviews without a job offer.
Boothman talked with her and decided that she ought to try adding a metaphor or simile to her interview, to highlight what she had to offer potential employers.
As a result, on her 75th interview, she informed the interviewer that she was kind of like a pit bull: “I'm watchful, loyal, and protective.”
This time she got the job. It would be hard to shake an image like that out of your head after interviewing Najeeba, even if you had interviewed fifty more candidates after her.
So you might sit down with your next cup of coffee and try to use a metaphor/simile to describe yourself. Be specific. One woman suggested she was like a flower, but a listener might think of a rose while she meant an orchid.
If you are really ambitious about using the I-KOLA, you might even build your story around it. Explain where that image came from. Did someone call you a pit bull because you uncovered a hugely padded expense account? Did someone call you a rubber band because you were flexible and willing to embrace any group?
Think on it. See what floats up out of your subconscious.
“Convince Them in 90 Seconds: Make Instant Connections That Pay Off in Business and Life,” Nicholas Boothman, April 2010, Workman Publishing, New York, 295 pages in a small format book.