Employers interview a LOT of people for each job… sometimes 20 or more people get interviewed for a single opening.
So you need a great way to stand out in your job interviews to separate yourself from the crowd. Fortunately, this article is going to walk you through everything you need.
You’re going to learn how to stand out in an interview – with 10 proven methods from multiple interview experts – so you can get job offers in less time.
Let’s get started…
My number one tips for clients is to ensure that you have researched the company very thoroughly. Go into the interview knowing the mission statement, understanding the company’s target market, and knowing more about the history of the business than anyone else.
At some time during the interview, the interviewer may ask what you know about the business—if you can’t answer that question, it makes you look like someone that doesn’t care too much about the opportunity.
Research can be easily conducted via the company’s website, trade publications, and by asking current employees (if you know any).
Being prepared and being someone that can show you are prepared provides the interviewer with the impression you are interested in the potential job, took the time to plan ahead, and care about the outcome.
Contributed by: Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Certified Professional Resume Writer and Founder of Feather Communications
Brand yourself with a signature trademark
How do you plan to set yourself apart during the interview? While your experience, skills and knowledge should be able to stand alone, I encourage my clients to brand themselves with a Signature Trademark. Mine is coffee.
While the focus of my resume/cover letter/interview isn’t coffee, I do mention my soy, sugar-free vanilla latte addiction when appropriate. I brand myself as “well-caffeinated”—I have a lot of areas of interest and drink plenty of coffee along the way. Doing so shows that I am more than my resume; I am also a person. What’s your Signature Trademark?
Show your authentic self
One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
But when people interview, they often find themselves not being themselves; they put on an Interview Persona (an alternative, more ‘professional’ version of themselves).
While this isn’t necessarily bad (if you tend to run late, put on an Interview Person who is early!), what’s going to happen when you start your new job and your boss learns the ‘real you’?
While I am not saying to be unprofessional or to forego social norms around interviewing, I do encourage you to bring your authentic self to the job search process.
Yes, you should highlight your passions and interests during your interview, but you should also share your areas of improvement (and not just fake ones that you spice up for interviews). Your honesty will be a breath of fresh air for the interviewer.
Send handwritten “thank you” cards
While you (hopefully) know to send thank you emails immediately after interviews, you should also be sending hand-written (yes, handwritten) thank you notes after every interview (both phone and in-person).
Thank you notes provide the interviewer with another touch-point that reminds them of how awesome you are.
Since they don’t arrive in the mail until several days after the interview, they are a good way to keep you on the interviewer’s mind. And don’t forget to reference your Signature Trademark in the thank you card!
Contributed by: Kyle Elliott, Career Coach/Consultant at CaffeinatedKyle.com
If you want to stand out in your job interview, stop thinking about your job interview as a series of questions you need to answer correctly to “pass”. It’s not a quiz. At least if the company you’re talking to is half-decent, it shouldn’t be.
So my best tip to stand out in a job interview is to go in armed with great questions to ask. And don’t wait until the end, mix them into the conversation. You can sometimes end one of your answers with a question.
For example, if they ask, “why did you apply here?” you can say, “I’m interested in virtual reality, and marketing is what I do best, so when I saw a virtual reality company like yours needed a Marketer, it was a no-brainer for me to apply. I’m really excited about the opportunity. One thing I noticed when reading about your company is that you seem to take a different approach to marketing than most of your competitors, can you share why that is?”
That’s just one way to do it.
You can find other ways to work your questions into the back-and-forth conversation as well. Ask about the group, current projects, challenges, why they’re looking to hire someone, what direction the company is headed in, and more.
Contributed by: Biron Clark, founder of CareerSidekick.com
Whether you’re going on an in-person interview or phone interview, there are many creative ways to leave a lasting first impression. I always encourage my candidates to spend some extra time compiling what I refer to as a “candidate fit summary”.
This document, which can be left behind at an interview or sent via email during a phone interview, is a brief synopsis of your relevant background and core strengths.
Tailor it to the job and their needs! And prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description and giving some thought to your specific relevant experience and skill set and how this aligns with what the employer is seeking.
Not only does this jog your memory on your core strengths and how they relate to the position, but it shows the interviewer that you took the extra time to prepare and think about how you fit in.
Contributed by: Dave Sugar, Vice President at Cedrone & O’Neill – Executive Search & Career Transition
Most people talk in very general terms… both when describing their past work and when talking about what they’d accomplish in a new position.
Don’t do this. You want to stand out, remember?
So instead, talk about specific results.
If they ask about your past work, talk about the actual results you achieved.
What was the impact? Be ready to name specific facts and data.
How did you help your past company save money, save time, or make money?
How did you make your manager’s life easier? This new hiring manager is definitely going to want to hire someone who will make his or her life easier, too. So this is a great thing to show!
To continue on the last idea, if you really want to stand out you should consider coming up with detailed examples, and measurable results, and putting them into a case study to show what you’ve done in the past.
What were one or two big projects you completed for your last employer?
If you just graduated and are looking for your first job after college, what projects or internships did you complete in school?
Go ask your former boss or colleagues if you need help gathering details and results of your work. Is it easy? No. But it’s how to stand out and get the best jobs out there!
Then create a one-page document showing the “before and after”.
Let’s say you were working on improving the company’s sales process. Maybe the company was converting 29% of leads into customers before you started working, and you improved it to 33%.
Those are your “before and after” stats.
It doesn’t have to be sales-related, it can be anything you’ve improved for your previous employer.
Consider creating another document highlighting exactly what you’ll do for this company if they hire you.
How will you learn the position and get up to speed quickly? (This is one of the top things employers want to see!)
How will you use your skills, experience, and expertise to help them reach their goals?
What value will you add? What can you do for them within the first 90 days?
Lay out what goals you hope to accomplish in the first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. Be realistic, but ambitious.
You don’t want to sound like you’re over-confident, but you want to show them you plan on working hard when you start this job.
Just by showing up with this plan, you’ll stand out in the interview. Most job seekers are not doing this.
Most people know you should ask questions in an interview, but very few job seekers realize how important it is. Employers really do judge you heavily based on this.
They want to hire somebody who’s being selective in their job search and really knows what they want! And the only way to show them this is to ask a lot of questions.
How can you be sure this job is the right fit for you if you don’t ask many questions?
I’ll repeat it again: Employers want somebody who’s being picky and looking for specific things in their next job! (And they’re NOT looking for somebody who appears to just want any job they can get).
So asking bad questions, or not enough questions, is one of the top reasons people struggle to find a job. So what should you do?
Ask questions about the job, the training you’ll receive, the group, the company overall, and more.
Avoid asking about salary, benefits, working hours, vacation time, or anything that’s not work-related! You want to seem like you’re focused on coming in and getting up-to-speed in their job when you ask questions.
Your body language is an important part of how to stand out in a job interview. People judge you visually before anything else; it’s just human nature. And the hiring manager or interviewer is going to gather their first impression of you within a few seconds of meeting you.
This isn’t just about the first impression either; this will affect how they react to everything you say in the interview.
If you’re sitting up straight and maintaining good eye contact while giving interview answers, it’s going to give you a huge boost.
Whereas if you’re glancing down or to the side while talking, and slouched over, your answer will be less impressive even if you said all the right things!
Try to walk in looking like you’re confident and happy to be there, not terrified or anxious. Keep a soft smile on your face like the image above.
Dress for success, maintain eye contact and sit upright. Lean slightly forward to show interest. Don’t tap your feet, tap your hands or do anything else that’ll distract from the conversation. If you need help building and practicing these habits, here’s a full article on body language tips.
After the interview, you’ll want to follow up and thank them for their time, reaffirm that you’re interested in the position, and tell them you’re eager to hear feedback and information about the next steps.
I recommend doing it the day after your interview, or Monday if your interview was on a Friday.
Also, customize the email so they know it’s not just a cut-and-paste email you send to everyone. You should have at least one place where it’s clear you didn’t just copy and paste it.
One easy way to do this: Thank them for sharing information about a specific topic they discussed with you – something that you found interesting.
Example: “Thanks for taking the time to interview me on Thursday. I really enjoyed our conversation, and the information you shared about how this role would collaborate with other groups and manage projects across the organization sounded fantastic…”
You can get full thank you email templates in this article.
If you follow the 10 strategies above, you will be more memorable and stand out in any job interview you go on… whether you’re interviewing first or last!
In today’s job market, it’s crucial to set yourself apart in a job interview, because companies are interviewing so many people for each position. So make sure you’re always doing something different than other candidates to stand out in your interviews.
If you have any questions on these tips for how to stand out in an interview, leave a comment below.
As one final tip for how to stand out in an interview – make sure you PRACTICE everything from your answers to your body language. If you’ve run through a mock-interview with a friend or family member, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable when you sit down for the real thing… because it’ll feel like you were just in this situation recently.
So don’t wait until the job interview to start thinking about these things. It’s hard to get everything right in that type of high-pressure moment if you haven’t practiced before. So the final step for how you can stand out in a job interview is practice everything we’ve discussed above.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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