“How are you today?”–The top 7 interview answers

The first words out of your mouth in an interview are to answer this cliché. Use this opportunity to be memorable — not just “fine,” or “good, thank you.”

Standing out from the (unemployed) crowd is simple.

All you have to do is ask yourself the following question throughout the day:“What could I do, in this moment, that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?”

I’ve dubbed this process “Making the Mundane Memorable,” and you’re presented with myriad opportunities to do so throughout your job search. Especially when interviewers, strangers and colleagues constantly ask you, “So, how are you today?”

Sure, it’s an overused and otherwise boring question. Not to mention, most people who ask it don’t actually care how you are. They’re either: 1) being nice, 2) breaking the ice, or 3) reverting into a predictable routine of psychological self-disclosure and cliché conversation.

But here’s the cool part: If you make the choice to leverage this mundane moment, you will instantly double your memorability.

I know this because I’ve been wearing a nametag 24/7 for 3,237 consecutive days. And strangers break the ice with me every day because of it. Some say hi, some introduce themselves, and some stop me in the middle of the aisle at Wal-Mart and ask me if I can tell them where to find the lime-green thongs they saw on sale in this week’s ad.

Either way, some encounter that otherwise wouldn’t have existed did occur, all because of approachability.

Here’s why: Curiosity is a natural motivator of human engagement. And there’s a certain sociological dissonance when people observe an unexpected or unexplained behavior. Especially when it’s inconsistent with their environment. (Like some random guy wearing a nametag.)

And that’s the secret: Because it’s that dissonance that increases the probability of a memorable encounter.

Your challenge as an unemployed professional is to stimulate curiosity, break patterns and attract interest when people ask you questions.

See, when someone asks you, “So, how are you?” you have a choice:

Be mundane or be memorable.
Be interesting or be unemployed.
Be unforgettable or be unemployable.

For example: You walk into a job interview. You’re prepared, well rested and hopped up on coffee, and you look like a hundred thousand bucks. Perfect.

When you extend your hand to greet your interviewer, she predictably asks, “So, how are you today?”

Stop right there. Don’t answer yet.

Remember the key question of approachability: “What could I do, in this moment, that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?

Let’s explore several potential answers to this question:

1. “Fine.”

Terrible. Fine is a lie. Nobody is fine. Fine is an acronym for “Feelings I’m Not Expressing.” Don’t say it.

2. “Great!”

Weak. Here’s why: First, good was good enough. Then great was good enough. Now, great isn’t that great anymore. Interviewers demand wow. So: You need to be amazing. Like, scary good. Everything else is your ante.

3. “Awesome.”

Getting better. Positive and energetic. A little unexpected, but still fairly common. Still, I think you can provide something more interesting.

4. “Ready to rock.”

Nice! Sounds confident yet playful. Not for everybody, but if it fits your personality and the personality of the company interviewing you, go for it.

5. “Perfect.”

My personal favorite. For years I’ve been answering the question, “So, Scott, how are you?” with this word. People notice it. People remember it. People ask follow-up questions about it. Because they’re curious. Works every time. Not to mention, the word perfect comes from the Latin perfectus, which means, “complete.” Which means it’s always the truth. Because all of us are always complete. Don’t forget that.

6. “Everything is beautiful!”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. When I first started my publishing and consulting company in 2002, I got a part-time job as a valet, crashing (I mean parking) cars nights and weekends. Interestingly, the overnight bellman was a guy named Henry who said, “Everything is beautiful!” daily. He was also voted Employee of the Year five years in a row. Coincidence? Maybe. Better than your answer? Absolutely.

7. Create your own answer.

None of these examples hit home? No problem. Make a list of 10 unique, memorable and unexpected answers to the boring question, “So, how are you today?” Experiment with words and expressions that are consistent with your personal brand and philosophy. Try a new one each day. Have some fun with it. You’ve got nothing to lose.

OK! Back to your job interview…

If you recall, you’re about to meet the person who very well could decide the fate of your very career.

She smiles, reaches out her hand and asks, “So, how are you today?”

Will you make the mundane memorable?

Will you leverage remarkability to trigger an emotional engagement?

Will you get noticed, get remembered and get the job that will save you from this horrible economy?

Or, will you respond like the other 37 (equally qualified) candidates she’s already met this week by predictably saying, “Fine”?

The choice is yours.

Either stand out from the crowd or stand in line at the unemployment office.

Let me ask ya this:

What could you do in this moment that would be the exact opposite of everyone else?