The job market is littered with talented candidates, like yourself, who are all vying for the same position. The glorious chime of your cell phone ringing may be your first indication of interest from a potential employer, but you’ll need to separate yourself from competitors as you trek through the interview process in order to clinch the role.
Standing out doesn’t always mean a degree from an Ivy League college, a robust network of business connections, or previous employment with a fancy big-name brand. Distinguishing yourself among other viable candidates and captivating your potential employer’s attention requires preparation, self-awareness, and mastering the art of interviewing.
Many job seekers fail to adequately conduct research, practice sound interview techniques, and perform the overall pre-interview preparation necessary for wowing the employer. Investing the time to familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, goals, and culture will spare you the imminent embarrassment of word vomiting a slew of ‘ums’ when you’re unable to answer the interviewer's questions. Rather than slowly descending into the depths of your chair, pleading for it to swallow you like quicksand, here’s some advice on how you can make a lasting impression on your interviewer.
Thorough Research is a Necessity
The candidates that slay their interviews are the ones that conduct some investigative research on every potential employer prior to their scheduled interview. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s products/services, their core values, any noteworthy news stories, and who their competitors are. Additionally, visiting the employer’s social networks will provide insight into their company culture, community involvement, and even new product launches that you can frame an educated conversation around. This information is also beneficial to you as a job seeker as you’ll garner some cultural insight necessary for determining whether or not your needs align with their internal environment.
Ask Insightful Questions
Leverage your research and previous work experience to compose a list of thoughtful, powerful questions that demonstrate your forward-thinking ability. Mediocre, humdrum questions will not create valuable dialog and generally indicate that you aren’t genuinely interested in the employer’s long-term vision and how you can contribute to the execution of their business goals.
Candidates who are aiming for a coveted in-house seat with their dream employer will mentally submerge themselves in the role they are interviewing for. Immersing yourself in the prospective role enables you to envision and anticipate some of the challenges the employer faces and subsequently discuss some possible resolutions to those problems. By proactively taking the initiative to understand the employer’s needs on a deeper level, you’re showcasing your problem-solving skills and proving that you’re truly invested in the future growth and success of the company.
Communication that is methodical and valuable throughout the entire interview process – from the initial phone screening to the negotiation and offer stage – is paramount in making a lasting impression. This includes replying to voicemail or email messages no later than one business day, being courteous in your correspondence (‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way), asking questions where necessary – uncertain on what constitutes as appropriate attire for the interview? Just ask. – and ensuring all communication has been cleared on any grammatical errors or misspelling of names.
Retain & Call Upon Pertinent Information
Integrating dialogue from previous interviews as you move through the hiring process demonstrates your ability to learn and integrate your knowledge into relevant conversations. There is nothing more frustrating for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager than engaging in an electrifying first interview or phone screen with a potential candidate only to discover the individual disposed of all details surrounding the discussion during their subsequent interview. A Hiring Manager who is required to continually reiterate basic information about the company or position you’re interviewing for after crushing your initial interview will basically earn you a one-way ticket to the rejection pile.
Deliver Thoughtful Answers
Any response to an interview question that’s absent-minded or clearly lacks deeper contemplation will look like you’re uninspired by the prospect of joining their company. Take your answers to a deeper level. Don’t say you’re interested in a customer service position because that’s the field you’ve been working in over the last 5 years. An insightful answer is more perceptive - i.e "I noticed 4 employees in your customer service department were promoted within the last year and I'd like to align myself with an employer that promotes professional development."
Self-Assured & Transparent
Bearing an aura that exudes confidence will completely transform the atmosphere of your interview. Self-assurance is an immediate indicator that you believe in the strength of your skill set, recognizing the distinct qualities that you can bring to the table. Begging for the role or conducting your interview as if you were completing a mundane questionnaire at your local DMV lacks energy and passion. Candidates that excite and rouse interest from the hiring manager value transparency, never shying away from the opportunity to divulge their opinion.
Job seekers who truly want to separate themselves from competitors will craft a personalized follow-up email to thank their interviewer(s). The message should be brief and customized in a manner that extends the conversation you and the hiring manager had during the interview. A well-constructed thank you note will not only keep your candidacy at the top of the employer's mind, but it can also be the icing on the cake that secures you the role.
Know Your Worth
Remarkable candidates are never discouraged by an interviewer that isn't biting at the opportunity to bring them on board. Rather than expend energy trying to persuade an uninterested party, impressive job seekers understand the importance of aligning themselves with an employer who displays mutual interest, and whose values harmonize with their own. If you didn't receive a particular job offer, but you believe whole-heartedly in your unique expertise, then you won't feel dispirited from the rejection. Instead, you'll be cognizant of the fact that there is an employer out there that will recognize your value and extend an offer to join their team.