You did it. You scored the interview, but that’s just the first step. And while picking out a stellar outfit and reviewing the qualifications of the job are important preparatory elements, how do you make yourself stand out in an interview with an organization where you’ll feel at home and your skills can shine? Here are four tips and traits to keep in mind.
1. Show Some Moxie
Workers who show an entrepreneurial spirit and determination to get the job done attract attention. Naturally, employers want individuals who take their jobs seriously. Top talent stands out when they can make the accomplishments written on their resume jump off the page and into living color.
Here’s where word choice matters. For example, everyone uses descriptors like “collaborative” or “driven” to talk up their best traits, but few provide specific examples to show that proof. Organizations want to know: “How did you accomplish these metric-inspired adjectives?”
Tell them stories that set you apart. Here’s how it could play out:
- In the first few weeks of your previous job, you made an effort not just to learn your role but asked to shadow your manager and leaders on other teams.
- You inquired if you could have a little face-to-face time with one or two of the directors to truly understand the DNA of the company.
- In so doing, you learned the ins and outs of the company and received a promotion just eight months after your first day.
- That’s what made you successful in your last job, and that’s exactly what you plan to do in your next role.
Other elements you could bring into conversation:
- Find connection points – alma maters, connections you have in common, nonprofits you support (LinkedIn can provide a wealth of knowledge)
- Come prepared with a hypothetical way you can help their business (piece of analysis, sales deck)
- Write a handwritten thank you to give at the end of the interview, showing your gratitude for the opportunity
The more you pinpoint what you bring to the table, the more the interviewers will think, “Wow, that candidate is invested in this job before a position has even been offered.”
2. Present Your Brand
When you think of brands, iconic names like Starbucks or Target come to mind. Well, just like when you see the green siren logo on a sign and instantly think of coffee, people connect you with certain characteristics. When it comes to a professional setting, what do you want future employers to equate with your name?
Your habits and actions from over the years have been creating your brand (whether you realize it or not). The content you’re sharing on LinkedIn, the volunteering you’re doing at a local clinic, or the mentoring you’re doing for high school students who want to enter the same field/trade all add to your brand. Most likely, you won’t be asked the direct question of “What is your brand?” However, you should be sprinkling it throughout your answers. By the end of the conversation, the interviewers should be able to recognize your brand.
3. Ask Bold Questions
Conversations are a two-way street, but it’s imperative that you bring pointed questions to the table. Yes, you can ask about how the company got started, but you could probably find that answer on their company website.
Try going down a different road. Maybe ask them about a time the company was struggling, whether that be due to finances, economy, or turnover – how did they make it out of that dire situation? How did the company grow from that? And as you ask these questions, see if you can link any of your personal experience to their story (showing your resiliency in your career).
Or perhaps ask them about the person who previously had the role you’re interviewing for. What did they excel in, and what areas could have been stronger? Ask the interviewers what gets them up for work every morning or even what they wish someone would have told them at the onset of their own career. Show them you are eager to learn from the organization and their experience. Do this well, and you will show them you are the kind of employee they want on their team.
4. Give Crystal Clear Answers
When an interviewer asks, “What leadership experience do you have?” a simple answer is, “I led a team of three other individuals.” Technically that’s a clear answer, but you neglected to tell them how you did that. Maybe you had to lead your team through an entirely new accounting software that changed all the familiar routines and processes. That’s a daunting task, but to make it fun, you made daily “quizzes” about how to troubleshoot certain issues, and the team member with the top score got a coffee of their choice that afternoon.
Maybe you brought breakfast every Friday to celebrate another week of a job well done. Perhaps you consistently checked in with individuals to see what challenges they were facing and what ideas they had about current processes. Whatever you did to lead the team, tell the story of how you did it – that’s a crystal-clear answer that will stick with them.
These four tips and traits may not be rocket science, but each one will help your skills, personality, and character shine in an interview. And when you find an employer who appreciates what you bring to the table, you may just find yourself in the ideal career home.
Ready for a job where you can reach new heights in an industry you’re passionate about? We will help you find it. Take a look at our openings, and we can get you connected with your next opportunity.