Most people know that you need to prepare and practice to nail a job interview. But even if you have the perfect resume and are well-prepared for your interview, you need to make an impression that sets you apart and gets you hired. After all, competition for the best jobs is fierce.
On average, each corporate job that gets posted attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will be invited for an interview, and only one will get the job. If you are looking to take your interview skills to the next level and make sure you stand out from the competition, try following these seven pieces of not so common but game-changing advice:
1. Talk about what you are (and avoid talking about what you’re not).
When an interviewer asks a question, they want to hear you talk about your strengths and what you bring to the table. Often, people get tongue-tied and start talking about their weaknesses or what they don’t have experience in. There’s always room for improvement, but dwelling on your faults will make you seem insecure and unprepared. If you don’t have experience in the specific area they are asking about, simply say so and then pivot to a related strength.
For example, if an interviewer asks about a time when you had to manage a difficult customer and you have never worked in customer service, you could say: “I have never worked in customer service, but I have dealt with difficult people before. In my previous job, I worked with a team of people who were constantly disagreeing with each other. I had to learn how to mediate those disputes and find a resolution that everyone could be happy with.”
So reign in trying to overshare about what you can't do. Instead, focus on your strengths and successes tailored to the position you are interviewing for. Examples could include discussing a time when you went above and beyond at work or how you took on a leadership role in a project. Be sure to include the results of your actions as well. This will show the interviewer that you not only have the skills, but also the drive and determination to get results.
2. Tell a story about yourself.
Your resume may be impressive, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Humans are hardwired to remember stories better than facts and figures, so don’t just list your accomplishments – tell the interviewer a story about them. People love stories. Stories make your experience more relatable and memorable. They also help the interviewer understand how you think, how you react under pressure, and what kind of person you are.
When preparing for your interview, think of a few stories that highlight your successes in various areas, such as customer service, leadership, or problem-solving. If you can, try to tie your stories into the company’s values or the job requirements. Employers want to know who you are as a person and what experiences have shaped who you are today. Be ready to share a few anecdotes that illustrate your character and work ethic. This is also your opportunity to explain any employment gaps or job changes on your resume.
Remember that your interviewer will likely meet with 4 to 6 candidates for the position you are interviewing for. Help them remember you by sharing stories that give them a better sense of who you are as a person and what kind of employee you will be.
3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability may not seem like a trait that would help you in an interview, but it can actually make you more relatable and likable. Sharing personal details or stories shows that you’re comfortable with who you are and that you aren’t afraid to let your guard down. This is a differentiator because so many people try to put up a persona or image in an interview that isn't really them. Being vulnerable will help the interviewer see the real you, and it allows you to test the waters if their management style will be a good fit for your personality.
The best way to apply this is by sharing a lesson learned from a previous job or experience. This could be something as simple as a time you made a mistake and what you did to fix it. You will impress the hiring manager by demonstrating you are self-aware and willing to take responsibility for errors and learn from them. Of course, you don’t want to overshare or get too personal – no one wants to hear about your love life or health issues. But a little bit of vulnerability can go a long way in making a connection with the interviewer.
After all, while they are interviewing you for fit, you are also interviewing them to see if the company and job will be a good match for you. By seeing how the interviewer reacts and responds to your sharing, you can get a better sense of their management style and whether or not they would be a good fit for you.
4. Be results oriented.
Employers don’t just want to know what your duties were at previous jobs; they want to know what impact you made in those roles. When discussing your past experiences, make sure to emphasize what results or accomplishments came as a direct result of your hard work.
For example, if you increased sales by 20% in one year, mention that! Or if you decreased costs by 10%, be sure to share that too along with how you did it. If you don’t have any hard numbers to back up your claims, try to give specific examples or testimonies from your previous employers or customers. Remember to put yourself in the manager's shoes. If you can demonstrate that you have helped to increase revenue, decrease costs or achieve efficiencies, then you will be a step above in quantifying how your work has benefited previous employers. In turn, your interviewer will be better able to understand how you could benefit their company as well.
Quantitative data is always impressive and helps put your claims into perspective for the hiring manager. The key is to demonstrate that you are a go-getter who gets results, no matter what the challenge may be. 5. Show your unique personality.
One way to stand out in an interview is to let your personality shine through. After all, the interviewer wants to know if you’re someone they would enjoy working with on a daily basis and if your style will fit into their team.
In fact, sharing something unique about yourself can be an excellent icebreaker and help set you apart from other candidates who are interviewing for the same role. One way to approach this is by sharing personal interests and hobbies as they can actually give employers valuable insight into who you are as a person.
If you’re naturally shy or introverted, that’s okay – there are still ways to show your personality without being too over the top. For example, you can share a story about an interesting hobby or side project, or you can mention a time when you went above and beyond to help a customer or solve a problem. If community service is important to you, then be sure to mention any volunteering or philanthropic work you do as well. No matter what it is, try to find a way to work it into the conversation so the interviewer can get to know you better.
The important thing is to be genuine, authentic, and true to yourself. If you want to make sure that you and the company are a good match, share your personality with them. You'll make a stronger impression and it will be easier to evaluate if their culture is right for you.
6. Pose thoughtful questions to the hiring manager.
Asking insightful questions during an interview not only shows that you are paying attention but also that you did research prior to the meeting. Showcasing knowledge of the company's current projects or recent news shows genuine interest in working for the organization. So few job seekers bother to do any research that even a small amount will set you apart from the competition.
In addition to research-based questions, you should also inquire about the interviewer's experience with the company, what they enjoy most about working there and any suggestions for success in the role. These types of questions show that you are not only interested in the organization but also invested in your own success and development. Rather than asking questions you can find in a quick LinkedIn or Google search, ask ones that will give you a better understanding of the company culture and the specific team you’d be working with if hired. This will help you gauge whether or not the organization is a good fit for you and your career goals.
Commissioning thoughtful follow-ups also indicates clear critical thinking skills, which is essential for success in any role and will make you more attractive to hiring managers. 7. Present A 30-60-90 day plan.
Hiring managers love seeing ambitious go-getters who have big plans for their first three months on the job and presenting such a plan indicates that you're confident enough in your abilities to already start thinking about long-term solutions rather than just short-term band aids.
In your 30-60-90 day plan, start by briefly restating the main objective of the role you’re interviewing for and then provide 3-5 specific goals you hope to accomplish in your first 30, 60 and 90 days respectively. These goals should be a mix of attainable yet challenging objectives, and should be specific enough that the hiring manager can easily visualize your success. Once you’ve laid out your goals, explain the specific steps you intend to take to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20% in your first 90 days, what strategies will you use to make that happen?
By presenting a well-thought-out 30-60-90 day plan, you’ll demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re not only passionate about the role but also confident in your ability to hit the ground running and contribute to the company’s success. If you can show your interviewer that you have a plan for how to add value to the company right away, you're much more likely to impress your interviewer and get the job!
Nailing a job interview takes more than just preparation and practice – it also requires you to be strategic, thoughtful and genuine. It may seem like a lot of extra effort but as a high-performer, going the extra-mile is your norm. Standing out means doing what others are unwilling to do in order to reach their goals. It means being vulnerable, telling your story and sharing your unique perspective. It also requires you to be thoughtful and prepared, with a clear understanding of the company's needs and how you can help them achieve their goals.
If use the 7 unique tips covered in this article, you'll be sure to make a great impression and increase your chances of getting hired! Let's Hear From You! What unique tips would you add that are distinctive in helping you to stand out in a job interview? Share them with us in the comments below!
Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute. I created Your Inspired Career to help people like you find the answers they need for a successful career and enriched life. I'm on a mission to help you thrive at work, further your life goals, achieve your career dreams & reach your full potential.