Job hunting isn’t easy and the interview process can be exhausting, especially after going to multiple interviews and not getting any call-backs. It’s a typical story, unfortunately, particularly if the field you’ve chosen to work in is highly competitive and many people are vying for the same position you are.
Getting your foot in the door for an interview is probably the biggest hurdle to jump over, but once you have landed an interview, you want to make sure you do the best you can so you can impress your interviewer and get the job. However, doing your best might not be enough in a competitive industry when you’re interviewing against dozens of other people.
The last thing you want after an interview is to be forgotten. You don’t want the interviewer to be flipping through resumes come decision time and have them ask, “Who was this person again?” after looking at yours. You want to make a lasting impression and set yourself apart from all the other candidates. It can be tricky to walk the line of outgoing and distinctive versus over-the-top and excessive, so here are some tips on how to properly distinguish yourself from the others during an interview.
Show excitement about the position
Companies are looking for candidates who are eager to join the team, so make it clear and obvious how excited you would be to work for them. Often times people get nervous during interviews and tend to come across as rigid and uninterested when really they are just trying to be professional (and trying not to give foolish answers!).
Not sure how to go about this? Start by thinking about what you would look for if you were the interviewer. What kind of sentiments would prove an applicant’s enthusiasm to you? Maybe it would mean emphasizing how your personal ethos aligns with the company’s mission statement and goals. Maybe it means explaining which workplace initiatives interest you the most and how you would be a great cultural fit. Whatever it may be, make sure to fully express this during the interview.
Offer information rather than have the interviewer fish for it
There’s nothing worse in a conversation than trying to pull information out of someone, so avoid having the interviewer fish for answers during your meeting. Good communicators can see where the question is leading and what kind of answers they are looking for without being prompted for more detail.
For example, rather than saying “I have good time management skills,” try saying “I was able to maximize my time and reduce some inefficiencies in the process, which led to greater productivity and ultimately higher weekly sales.” This answer has demonstrated a skill and has also given a specific reason as to why it was beneficial, as opposed to the first response, which was simply stating a skill.
This also demonstrates your communication and critical thinking skills, as it shows you can pick up on cues and can understand what’s being asked of you without needing any hand-holding; something employers value highly.
Give answers that aren’t generic
Most likely, you are not the only candidate being interviewed for the position, so the person interviewing you has probably asked the same questions to everyone. What you don’t want is to give the same answer as someone else, because that isn’t going to make you memorable. In fact, it will do the opposite.
Try and offer a unique point of view in your responses. A good way to do this is by personalizing your answers with anecdotes and success stories you’ve had. When you’re doing your interview preparation, consider what kinds of questions they will ask and try to think of a way to offer a personal take on the topic. When it comes time for the interview, don’t be afraid to pause and take a moment to think of a response after the question was asked. It’s better to take your time and collect your thoughts rather than blurting out something generic the interviewer has probably heard a dozen times already.
Consider personal branding
These days, everything is branded, because people remember brands, so think about how you can brand yourself during your interview. Without a doubt, you want to be your authentic self rather than your “interview self” because people want to see your personality just as much as they want to know about your skills.
Pick something to make your signature trademark that will leave an impression on the interviewer. You can discuss non-traditional post-secondary schooling, like graduating from an online program like Suffolk University Online offers, and what different aspects made it a unique experience. You could also make a personal logo for yourself and include it on your resume, business cards, or website. If you really want to be formal and memorable, send hand-written thank you notes after each interview.
Feel free to get a bit more personable and less business if you like, and talk about an interesting or unconventional personal hobby. You could brand yourself as something like the “coffee person,” or the “grammar lover.” You could even wear a piece of clothing that’s subtly memorable, like funky patterned socks or a tie with your favorite cartoon characters on it. These tactics can help you stick out from all the other cookie-cutter candidates.
Prepare your answers
Chances are everyone already knows the primary rule for interview prep: do your research. Take the initiative to learn as much as you can about the company so you can demonstrate your knowledge in the interview, but try and take it one step further and compare your work history to the company you’re interviewing for. If you can think of how the work they do relates to your experience and successes, you can tie them together so you make yourself look more relevant to their work.
Show your value
When interviewing, you want to prove that you have value, rather than just saying you do. How do you manage this? By quantifying your successes with specifics and details. Rather than simply stating a task you completed, explain what goal it met or how it was beneficial.
If you contributed to an increase in sales, removing inefficiencies, driving new business, or saving the company money, give specific facts and figures to back up your accomplishment. Remember, companies want to know how you can contribute and what you will do for them, so make sure they have a clear understanding of exactly what that means.
Less interview, more conversation
Consider the interview to be more like a fluid conversation, rather than a one-sided discussion. The person interviewing you is also trying to determine if you would be a good cultural fit as well as learning about your skill set and qualifications, so relax and chat with them. Ask questions to engage them and have a good back-and-forth dialogue instead of robotically responding to each question.