Job seekers: How to stand out in a job interview
A job interview is your chance to really highlight how you differ from the other candidates, especially your competition. So how can you stand out?
Reflecting on the thousands of people I have interviewed over many years, the ones who were memorable and stood out were:
The small things matter. Being on time and introducing yourself with a smile and a strong handshake is expected. When someone shows you that they value your time, simply adding thanks for your time today sets the tone.
As an interviewer, I always remember the extra snippets of information people I interview share — mentioning hobbies gives individuality and shows an interesting personality.
My area of expertise is representing digital and marketing talent, and it never ceases to amaze me how often I cross paths with senior marketers who seem to have a brain snap when it comes to marketing themselves.
The best candidates I’ve met go beyond the expected research of the company they are applying for. Giving yourself time to think about your career path will allow you to identify your key learnings in each role.
I understand that people are conscious of overloading their résumé and if you popped every project and campaign onto your résumé, it may end up resembling the old Yellow Pages.
When a job seeker takes the time to identify when they have over exceeded expectations and are able to articulate positive examples, it makes a fantastic impression.
- Put yourself in the employer’s shoes, and ensure that you are positioning yourself accordingly to the role that you are aiming for. Have a really good read through the job description and align your areas of expertise with their requirements.
- Be relevant — streamline your résumé to ensure that your most relevant skills/experience is dominant and where possible, back it up with figures. This shows your future employer that you bring commercial acumen, and reporting on increases in ROI is memorable.
Being hungry to learn and genuinely passionate always goes hand-in-hand. It speaks volumes of how committed people are to develop when they carry out further study whilst working. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who proactively up skills.
People who have a ‘can do’ attitude, can take onboard responsibilities that are not expected, and can use their initiative to improve efficiencies are highly sought-after qualities.
This can be skills-based — new tools or systems alongside personal growth — from the hurdles of adapting, to working with challenging stakeholders, to creating solutions and being open to change.
Be open to talk about your mistakes and challenges you have faced. The experience of learning from mistakes will highlight you have developed a resilience and understanding of how to manage stakeholders up, down and sideways!
Remember a job interview is a two-way exchange and the interviewer wants you to do well.
- Preparation: Coming prepared beyond the expected company research. Have a list of frequently asked questions to ask interviewers. Dive deeper — plot out your career path and key learnings from past roles to allow you to.
- Smile: Don’t underestimate the power of smiling. Smiling will relax you and also the interviewer. It sets the mood and helps you appear friendlier.
- Be personable: Don’t be afraid to show your personality, enthusiasm and energy. All of these showcase to the interviewer positive signals and make you memorable
- Attitude: Employers want people who have a positive attitude about their work, after all, they are looking for someone they want to work with. So dress the part, think positive, sit up straight, be an active listener and convey a can-do attitude.
- Ask questions: At the end of the interview, most interviewers leave time for you to ask questions — don’t miss this opportunity. Whether the questions you ask are about insights into the specific role, the culture of the workplace or any advice the interviewer can provide gives an indication you’re inquisitive and shows your level of interest.
- Express your interest: While this may seem obvious, nerves often cause us to forget the simplest of things at the best of times. At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the role. Ask about next steps so you’re clear on when and how to follow up.