You applied for a job, your resume caught the recruiter’s attention, you got a call to schedule an interview with you and now what? It’s time to start preparing and coming up with a strategy to stand out during the interview and increase your chances of landing the job.
Interviewing is one activity that excites me because not only do I love being interviewed, it serves as a great learning experience for me. I remember my first major interview in the United States. I applied for a professional job at a time when many immigrants like me would choose to settle for less. As part of the interview process, I had to sit for an exam, get graded and placed on a selection list prior to being called for the physical interview. I prepared for the exam as though my life depended on it and then got a letter a few days after that I had been placed on the interview list. From that moment on, I started preparing for my interview and ensured that I left no stone untouched. Eventually, I was called for an interview and at the end of an arduous process, I landed the job. Several years after landing the job and rising through the ranks, I got to work and found a folder on my seat. I opened the folder to find some documents that related to how I was hired. The Human Resources department had asked for the reason I was picked among the candidates and the responses my then supervisor gave were quite telling.
Seeing this folder gave me an insider look into what people look out for during interviews.
Are you looking for a job? Are you scheduled for an interview? You need to keep reading so you can put your best foot forward on interview day and stand out from the rest of the interviewees.[Read: How to Stand Out and Become Indispensable in the Workplace]
Preparing for Your Interview
Research: The most intelligent man in the room is he who has done his homework before submission time and that is why standing out during your interview will require that you diligently do your homework and research about the company you want to work for, the position you are applying for and what it requires to get the done. In researching, the first point of call is the company’s website and social media pages. Know their values, ethics and social responses and plan ahead to infuse those in your responses. Another point of call is the current employees. These people are a good source of insider information. If you know any employee who works where you are about to be interviewed, it’s a great idea to pick up the phone and call the person or take him/her to lunch. Also, Google is always your friend. Research the company on Google, learn about their latest news and updates and be prepared.
Read the job description and the requirements: One of the ways to stand out and increase your chances of landing the job is by reading the job description thoroughly and having a clear understanding of what it requires to get the job done. If you the position requires a specific skill set, be sure that you can deliver and if you need to brush up on some terms and acronyms, be sure to do that way ahead of time.
Update your resume: During the application process, you might have been asked to submit your resume but that should not stop you from updating your resume as you prepare for your interview. In order to stand out during your interview, your resume must simply be on point. You must elaborate on your skills and provide a cover letter that speaks to “what you intend to bring to the table.” Do not make your cover letter only about your skills and qualifications. Plan to let your potential employer know that you are also thinking about the value you want to add to the organization.
Maintain a clean social media profile: Another way you need to prepare for your interview is by maintaining a clean profile on social media. Employers are now checking social media before, during and even after the hiring process. You must be diligent and ensure that your social media profile reflects your core values. Avoid the use of vain or profane words or pictures or anything that might be questionable or prevent you from getting the job.[Read: How to Present with Power and Confidence During Your Next Public Presentation]
Standing Out During the Interview Process
There is no one formula for standing out during the interview process but here are a few things you can do to stand out during the interview process.
Arrive early: One of the ways to create a great impression and standout during your interview is by arriving early. This is definitely a plus because it speaks to your work ethic. Arriving late for an interview no matter the reason decreases your chances of standing out. Some of the things you can do that will help you arrive early include knowing your route, staying at a place close to the interview (especially if you live out of town), and making plans for adequate transportation, allowing time for traffic. When I attended my first major interview several years ago, I arrived one hour early.
Dress for success: You must have heard of the phrase “do not judge a book by its cover” and while that is absolutely the right thing to do, people still do the opposite and judge a book by its cover. If you want to stand out and increase your chances of landing the job, you must be properly dressed. Why is dressing important?
The way you dress is a sneak peek into your soul, reflects your values and speaks volume.
It’s also the first thing your interviewers will notice about you and that’s why it’s important for you to pay attention. On a general note, the dress code for interviews is formal. However, you may also want to research what the dress code of the organization is. A quick check on the website will give you insights as to how to be properly dressed for your interview.[Read: 7 Things That Hinder Success]
Let your passion shine through: There’s no way you can bring your highest potential into a job without being passionate about it. During the interview process, your interviewers must be able to perceive that you are passionate about the job you are seeking to get. No one wants to hire someone who’s only in for the money. Look beyond the compensation you are about to get and let your mind, body and soul be in tune. Your interviewers will notice this, and it will help you stand out from among others that will be interviewed for the same job.
Practice your introduction: This is big. Your introduction will set the tone for how your interview will go so it’s imperative that you practice your introduction ahead of time. Of course, you don’t want to sound like you are already programmed but a well-rehearsed introduction will leave your interviewers yearning for more.
Speak with Confidence: One of the things you can do to stand out during the hiring process is to speak with confidence. Your interviewers are not necessarily looking for the best candidate in terms of academic results, rather they are mostly looking for a well-rounded person that speaks with confidence without being condescending. In speaking with confidence, share your skill set and how it will add value to the organization. Answer the questions asked without prevaricating. When you are being asked a question for which you do not know the answer, tell the truth instead of polishing it or circumventing it. Another point worthy of note is to go beyond giving monosyllabic answers[Read: How to Overcome Self-Limiting Beliefs]
Go with relevant documents to reinstate your facts or that back up your experiences: Take all documents that will reinforce your skillset and achievements with you. This shows you are diligent and prepared. It makes you stand out from the crowd.
After your interview, it’s not yet time to fold arms and wait for the call. Instead, take your time to send an email or a card to your interviewers to thank them for the opportunity to be interviewed. Doing this will create a great impression on their hearts and improve your chances of getting the job.
Thanks for reading. Do you have an interview coming up soon? Leave a comment below and remember to share this post with a friend.