Getting hired can sometimes take dozens of interviews and thousands of applications spanning over several months or even years. The problem with the current job market is that for every one position available, hundreds of applicants submit their resumes. And no matter what job you apply for, there will always be a handful of applicants who are more qualified than you.
When you’re contacted by an employer to set up an interview, you’ll need to prepare extensively so that you stand out from those other applicants who have more experience or more education than you by exuding confidence and showcasing why you’re the stronger candidate. Read on to learn how to stand out at your next job interview!
Spend time perfecting your resume and cover letter.
During the application process, you’ll need your resume to effectively convey your skills and experience. A strong resume is organized, visually appealing, and not too lengthy. Consider meeting with a professional resume writer to most beneficially highlight your abilities and experience.
You should also create a cover letter template that highlights your experience and demonstrates your competence. While a cover letter is not always required by employers, it will make you stand out from the other applicants who don’t submit a cover letter during the application review stage.
Use proper English in all correspondence.
Once an employer contacts you about setting up an interview, make sure you’re prepared to use proper English. Avoid slang terms at all costs, and proofread all email messages before sending. If necessary, use a grammar checking service such as Grammarly, and write out what you’ll say if contacted by phone.
It’s imperative that you make a good first impression during your initial contact with all prospective employers, and nothing turns off an employer more than poor oral or written communication.
Practice responses to job-specific questions and scenarios.
One of the worst feelings when interviewing is being asked a question that you’re unprepared to answer. If you’re interviewing for a customer service job, Google questions that are typically asked during interviews for this type of role so that you’ll be more capable of coming up with relevant answers on the spot.
Some employers also implement scenarios during interviews, such as “tell me about a time when…” If you don’t have any experience in this type of role, then use experiences you’ve had while working in groups during your high school and/or college years.
Dress professionally and conservatively.
The number one rule: don’t show cleavage. Remember, your interview is most likely the first occasion when a prospective employer will see what you look like and how you present yourself. Dress according to the type of job, the job level, and the company you’re interviewing with. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a cashier job at McDonald’s, You probably shouldn’t show up in a full suit and designer accessories. Opt for a nice blouse or button-down shirt, slacks or clean black pants, and either dress shoes or clean and conservative flats.
On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a managerial role or any office position, you’ll want to look your best, which means a pantsuit, a calf-length dress with sleeves and a blazer, or a nice blouse or button-down shirt with a blazer, slacks, and your nicest flats, dress shoes, or heels. If you have long hair, consider wearing a neat ponytail or bun, which looks more professional and less casual than loose hairstyles.
Display enthusiasm and attentiveness.
If you’re nervous, disguise it as excitement. If you’re an introvert, dig deep into your soul and find the extrovert that’s hidden there. Nerves are totally common when you’re sitting in that room with all those eyes trained on you, especially if you’ve never interviewed before. Expect there to be more than one interviewer, and anticipate some discomfort. Be prepared to handle all these elements beforehand.
I personally hate attention and get severe anxiety before I interview, but my poker face disguises all of that, and my insecurities are temporarily traded with confidence and enthusiasm. The hard truth is that shy people don’t stand out from outgoing people during job interviews; in other words, you must fake it until you make it.
Hold a confident posture and maintain eye contact.
Eye contact is essential for indicating your ability to pay attention, engage with others, and step up to challenges. Constantly looking down or breaking eye contact with your interviewers will translate into you being fearful and intimidated, which doesn’t make for a strong candidate.
Similarly, if you sulk or hunch over during your interview, you’ll appear less confident in yourself as well as less likely to handle confrontation. Take up space in your seat by keeping your shoulders back and either leaning back or sitting up straight. Avoid looking too stiff by alternating your position every once in a while, such as by crossing your legs or ankles and occasionally leaning forward to engage in a response.
Use examples to demonstrate your experience and knowledge.
For instance, if an interviewer asks you what your greatest strength is and you respond with “time management,” provide a specific example of an instance when you managed your time exceptionally well when doing so was challenging. Avoid using single words or short phrases when given the opportunity to market your abilities and experience.
Another element that will make you stand out from other candidates is your ability to speak confidently about your abilities and strengths.
Use powerful keywords.
When describing your experience and skills as well as when responding to scenario-type questions, engage powerful words like “flexible,” “goals” or “goal oriented,” “detail oriented,” “reliable,” punctual,” and “organized.” Exchange negative words with more more positive words, such as “area for improvement” rather than “weakness,” “detail oriented” rather than “perfectionist,” and “constructive feedback” rather than “criticism.”
Employers want you to engage with them, so the worst thing you can do when they ask if you have any questions for them is simply say “nope!” It is likely that the interviewer will address all the questions you might have about the company and the role during the interview, so here are a few questions you can ask that they will most likely not address: “What characteristics are you looking for in your employees to represent the company’s values?” “Are there opportunities for professional development?” “Is there anything about my background or my character that makes you question whether or not I am a good fit for this role?”
The great thing about asking these types of questions is that you will have another chance to redeem yourself if the interviewer does in fact have some objection to your background or character or otherwise wasn’t crazy about your interview. Asking questions also demonstrates that you’re very interested in the job, which sets you apart from other candidates automatically.
Shake hands firmly and repeat the interviewers’ names when leaving.
When your interviewers introduce themselves, repeat their names as you’re shaking their hands. For instance, “Nice to meet you, Erica; Hello, John.” When shaking hands, maintain eye contact and shake firmly but naturally.
At the conclusion of your interview, thank them for their time and indicate that you look forward to hearing back from them. Shake their hands again and repeat their names as you wish them well. For instance, “Take care, Erica; Thanks again, John.”
Now you’re ready to stand out at your next job interview! Comment your experience using these tips below.
Featured image source: https://ausbilderwelt.de/vorstellungsgespraech-mit-azubis/
Jamie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is an aspiring writer, professional editor/proofreader, and piano player. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading classic literary works, composing music, and playing Xbox with her husband!