Let’s be honest, when going for a job interview it is taken for granted that candidates turn up on time, that they are polite and prepared. There is nothing special about it. Most probably, you have already heard multiple times “You need to stand out from the crowd!” But let’s get more specific, how can candidates really differentiate themselves from others? Find out how 10 Global Professionals would answer the question “How to stand out in a job interview?”.
How to stand out in a job interview
Klaus Mantel, Germany
Managing Director at www.Experteer.com
How to stand out in a job interview? Prepare well, ask smart questions, show active interest: Do upfront research about the company, their products, services, business model, culture and the people you will meet in the interview. Sounds simple but in my experience only 25% of applicants do it well.
Be a chess player – think 10 moves ahead: A candidate can shine by proving network thinking and taking the different angles in the answer opening a valuable discussion, but also to realize to be straight to the point when needed.
Show hands-on mentality and engagement – a reflection in the candidate´s behavior? Before the interview we informally go to the kitchen to grab a coffee: Taking the cup and handling the machine versus expecting to be served. After the interview we do a little office walk around: stepping beyond the doorstep greeting the potential colleagues friendly versus a quick look into the office and rush by.
Avoid artificial reasons for admitting weaknesses: A profound self-assessment and understanding of your real weaknesses proves maturity, strength, self-esteem and helps to position you right.
Last but not least, a classic one: hobbies and interests. Adrenalin driving sports, or exotic hobbies you might have never heard about before can make you stand out.
Katherine Moody, USA
Joel L. Villar, USA
Dr. Valentin Schellhaas, Germany
Managing Director at www.Experteer.com
From personal experience (not HR professional experience) I look for the following characteristics in a candidate:
- Raw intelligence (which always trumps experience)
- The ability to self-reflect and be self-critical, as key for learning and improving (being humble usually is a requirement for that, but not always)
- The capability to see both the big picture and the detail – and being able to swiftly alternate between these
* usually entails the equally important capability to distinguish important from not important, and the flexibility to re-prioritize tasks based off of that
- The capability to empower, enable, and motivate teams – with the right mix of “getting the hands dirty” and delegating work.
All of these are hard to detect in an interview, but some indicators can usually be seen in a personal conversation.
Jonathan Burston, United Kingdom:
How to stand out in a job interview? Being polite, prepared and turning up on time are taken for granted. Sadly many candidates don’t do it. Over the years I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates and probably around 30%-40% fail in one or all of those areas. So whilst they are taken for granted, it’s important to make sure that as a candidate you actually do it. Other areas that you can stand out are:
- Reconfirming the interview in advance yourself and not rely on a recruitment consultant to do it for you. That way they get to hear your voice in advance and break the ice a little.
- If you get the chance to speak with the interviewer it’s worth asking them if there’s anything else they’d like you to bring with you at this stage. Again, it’s all about trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Be polite to everyone you meet once you walk into the building. Once you walk through that door you are like an actor on stage. Be polite to the receptionist and even strike up a conversation with them. When I was recruiting I used to ask my receptionist and executive assistant for their feedback prior to going into the interview. After all, if they couldn’t be polite to them, how could I know that they’d be polite representing my company.
- Have great questions prepared for the interviewer. One question to ask that has worked really well is, ‘Why do you like working here and what do you enjoy most about the role?’ You get a real insight into the company and the interviewer. As most people like talking about themselves, it’ll help you stand out, as you’re interested in them.
- Follow up the interview. So many candidates walk out of the interview and don’t follow up. It’s important to send an email to say thank you and reiterate your strengths for the role and overcome any objections they may have.
Bishwabandita Guru, India
Founder of HR Revamped, Book author of “The Ultimate Quote Book of Human Resource Managers”
How to stand out in a job interview? These are my suggestions:
- Draft an impressive resume and cover letter.
- Prepare yourself thoroughly with the probable questions that you may be bombarded with by the interviewer/s and the emphasis on preparation should be conceptual as well as detailed oriented.
- Gather as much knowledge about the company profile as possible and try finding the strongest link of the job position with your existing skill sets.
- Dress for success as dressing up for success leads to success.
- Pay attention to body language.
- Show genuine interest in the company and in the job role.
- Exhibit your fitness within the organisational culture.
- Emphasize on a clearer speech, the way you enter the room and on looking comfortable.
- Follow through with a high-impact thank you/follow up letter.
Dimple Bindra, India
Image Consultant, Soft Skills Facilitator, Etiquette Coach
Job interviews are of utmost importance for one as a job aspirant. An interview call means that your resume has made a favorable impression and now it’s time to present the best of you. One needs proper planning, preparation and grooming in a professional manner. A positive frame of mind has a great impact as it affects the way you think, feel and the way others react to you. To stand out during an interview, your first impression has a marked effect. It consists of three elements, namely body language, clothing, etiquette and vocal communication. Your attire influences not only your own mindset, but also the way others perceive you.
Before approaching a company it is essential that a candidate has appropriate and adequate knowledge about the company. It is also important to carefully review the job description and use it to your advantage. Candidates also need to be able to demonstrate that they would fit well within the culture of the organization and have the qualities they are looking for. Asking questions and quenching your curiosity can make the interviewer believe that you are genuinely interested in the position and their company. Remember, when you invest in yourself it is easy for others to invest back in you.
Jack Parson, United Kingdom
Gwen Sharwood, USA
HR Manager for Getty Oil Company
How to stand out in a job interview? Know the company you are interviewing with well… also know their competition. Have at least two questions about the “company” and the Hiring Manager ready to ask them. The first should be: What do you need in your employees to make you successful? The second should be, what is either your department’s or the company’s biggest challenge? Be sure you respond by saying you are confident you will be an asset in helping attain those goals.
Karin Schroeck-Singh, United Kingdom
Founder and Content Manager at www.CareerHeads.com
How to stand out in a job interview? This is the strategy that I would apply if a company would invite me for a job interview:
- I would send a thank you note to confirm my interview attendance, but it would not just end there. I would go to the company, take a selfie in front of the company’s premises and attach it to my handwritten card. The benefit? It would prove that I already checked out the company’s location, that I can already see myself working there and that I have a more creative approach in doing certain things.
- Once I enter the corporate premises, I would greet the receptionist by her name. Doing my research online or calling up the company in order to find out this information would be easy. You never know, she might have the last say in the hiring decision. And let’s be honest, we all love to hear our name during a conversation, isn’t it? I do believe that it makes the conversation more enjoyable.
- I would invest MANY hours in conducting some in-depth research (online and offline) on 6 things, such as: company, interviewers, job position, corporate culture, competitors, team members (some more info in my article: 6 Things to research before an interview). I would surely check out a company’s social media presence in detail. I would not just read and research about it, but create a MINDMAP (see image as an example) with all the relevant information on 2 sheets. One page would also be dedicated to all employees with their profile photos, names, positions and interests. I would try to memorize all of them, in case I meet them during several hiring stages. I would bring this along to the interview and put it on the table in front of me. It would show the interviewer that I took the time to write it down, that I take the job seriously, that I like having a good overview about a company, that I pay attention to detail and that I feel strongly about being well informed and best prepared.
- I would show the interviewer that I already thought about how I can add real value to the company’s success. How? I would take out my list of suggestions written down as bullet points and present them my strategy in an enthusiastic way. The interviewer would be able to see, hear and feel my passion for this job.
- During the interview I would try to include lots of professional experiences, success stories and quantifiable achievements that match perfectly with all the requirements that the company is looking for. The interviewer would get a better understanding of what value I would bring to their company in the future.
- I would try to go the extra mile by providing the company with something unexpected. (For example: If I would apply for a content managing job, I would offer the company a free article that they can publish on their blog. If I would be a web designer, I would provide the company with a demo on how their new corporate website could look like.
- I would take notes during the interview, even though I never met any candidates who did it when I was a recruiter. It shows again that I take the job seriously and that I want to make sure that no detail will be forgotten.
- I would ask smart questions about things that I was not able to find out while doing my in-depth research. I never went to an interview without asking some specific questions. It shows my interest in the company and the position.
- Last but not least, the thank you message once the interview is over. While some (not all!) candidates might send a thank you email/letter, I would choose a completely different approach, I would record my message in front of the company’s premises and send them my thank you video message soon afterwards! Which approach do you think would be more memorable?
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Author: Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a trilingual Career Optimizer at www.Careerheads.com. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 20 years of international work experience in various industries in Italy, the UK and India. Her passion lies in creating multilingual, high-quality content in career matters, giving highly engaging public speeches and helping job seekers to optimize their career by providing professional coaching. She is the author of several ebooks, among them “44 Tips for a successful Video Interview” (http://careerheads.com/product/ebook-44-tips-for-a-successful-video-interview/). She has written several career and business articles for international HR and Marketing companies. Her favourite motto is “Learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime!” Follow her on Twitter @CareerHeads.