Most job interviews are repetitive and formulaic. After a day meeting an endless stream of candidates, interviewers can be hard pushed to remember who they met and what they said. So how can you stand out in a job interview, for all the right reasons?
Hopefully you will have already read our article on job interview preparation and how to maximise your chances at this stage of the recruitment process. Now let’s move on to what you can do to differentiate yourself from the other candidates during and after the interview.
5 ways to stand out in a job interview
Here are some tips for giving the interviewer something to ‘hold on to’ once the interview is over, and helping them to remember you when it comes to decision time.
1. Be confident
It goes without saying that you should make a good first impression with the interviewer: firm handshake, direct eye contact and be positive (ie smile).
But remember to carry this through to the rest of the interview.
- Keep smiling while you’re answering tough questions.
- Maintain professional body language to project confidence (eg sit up straight, don’t slouch).
- Continue to make eye contact as it’s one of the most effective forms of non-verbal communication for conveying self-esteem and confidence.
You may not feel confident, but you should act like you are. This will make you stand out in the job interviewer’s mind and to be memorable.
2. Use concrete examples
An interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills and abilities. It’s not enough to recite a list of skills. You have to provide concrete examples of how you have used those skills and what you achieved.
For example, one of your skills may be project management. Provide an example of how you have done that and quantify what the results were (such as time efficiencies or cost savings) to paint a picture for the interviewer and stand out in the job interview.
3. Solve real problems
If you want the interviewer to really remember you, step away from the interview environment. Show them how you could use your skills to improve their business and/or solve their work problems.
Ask them what the successful candidate will be expected to achieve and problems they will need to tackle when they start their new role, then tell them how you would go about those tasks. This shows you are keen on the role, care about making a difference and have the abilities to succeed. It gives them plenty to remember you by even if your solution isn’t perfect.
4. Go beyond the formal setting
There are other opportunities to demonstrate your ‘fit’ within a company besides the formal interview itself.
For example, during the interview ask for a tour of the office. You may just get a quick view of the office on your way out, but it gives you a chance to ask about and comment on the workspace and ask smart, relevant questions. That time in a different environment will make you more memorable than the other candidates who stayed in the confines on the interviewing room.
During the tour, ask if you might meet one or two people on the team. Ask relevant questions about their work and demonstrate what you can do. Impress them and you’ll be remembered as the candidate who ‘acted like an employee’ and showed what you can do to help. Hopefully they will talk about you to their manager, influencing their decision-making.
5. Follow up
To stand out in a job interview even after it’s finished, be memorable and further influence the interviewer by sending a thank you note. Beyond the pleasantries, provide something useful such an article on a topic discussed in the interview or information about a product or tool that may be of interest. Remember to send it promptly after the interview. Many hiring decisions are made quickly these days, so timeliness is very important.
An effective thank you note will help the manager to remember you as the candidate who was different to the others and hopefully the perfect fit for their team.