Following the Great Resignation, companies are looking to refill positions while job seekers look for new positions that align with their values. While that means there are a plethora of job openings, there is a significant amount of competition for those top openings. As a job seeker, how can you stand out in your interview?
We’ve previously covered some of the best interview practices, but it pays to keep innovating and adapting. Forbes’ Jack Kelly took a look at the hiring trends from Spring 2022 and provided an insider’s view on how to stand out in a challenging hiring cycle. We’ll look at Jack’s findings and provide some of our own to help you land your next career.
Clearly express interest
We’ve previously analyzed the similarity between dating and job searching. One common technique in dating that you should NOT add to your job search playbook is playing hard to get. If hiring managers are going to invest time, money, and effort into hiring and training you, they want you to be invested in the company and its culture.
Jack explains there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a hiring cycle, including multiple departments being looped in, preparing a compensation offer, and planning onboarding and training. A candidate that rejects an offer or prefers to wait for a better one is wasting a lot of the company’s time.
This is why you want to reiterate that you want the job. Make that desire shine through your body language and in your responses. Reference what you like about the organization and the position. Your sincerity will keep you in their minds when they make their decision.
Jack’s next suggestions, asking smart questions and proving you did your homework, fall into a similar category. The more knowledge you possess before you enter the building (literally or metaphorically), the better of a candidate you’ll be.
“Being prepared and being someone that can show you are prepared provides the interviewer with the impression you are interested in the potential job, took the time to plan ahead, and care about the outcome.” –Biron Clark, Career Sidekick
The more you know about the organization, the more invested you’ll seem in the position, helping with the previous point. It will also help you relate your skills and experiences back to the role you’re interviewing for. The more deeply engaged you can be, the better your rapport with the interviewer will be, and you’ll prove yourself a capable candidate.
Michele Mavi of Fairygodboss stresses the importance of leaving generic responses at home. Take time to thoughtfully and specifically answer a prompt rather than rushing to throw out a quick response. And make sure to actually answer a prompt. Don’t force the interviewer to hunt for value in your answer.
Meanwhile, the more you prepare, the better your follow-up questions will be. Every interview should end with a chance to ask your questions, and preparing meaningful questions in advance show foresight and a desire for deeper knowledge.
Make the interviewer’s life easy
Depending on the position, interviewers may be talking to dozens of applicants, and before they even get to that point they must go through even more resumes and schedule time to talk to all of their prospective clients.
Work with the interviewer to schedule a time that works for them, especially if you’ve got flexible time yourself. That extra bit of courtesy from asking “when is a good time for you?” shows you value their time and you’re willing to be a team player. It may not seem like much, but these types of traits are valuable and not always ubiquitous. You don’t have to be a push-over to succeed, but some basic courtesy and willingness to be a team player go a long way.
Use a call to action
Every persuasive speech should end with a call to action, and an interview is no exception. Your desired outcome should be “hire me”, or at the very least, “bring me in for the next round of interviews.”
Jack says to make sure to ask for next steps and to even go as far as to ask “Could you please share what the next steps are and who I’ll meet with for the following rounds?” This exudes confidence while reiterating your interest in the role. Express that you want the role, reference a few topics discussed during your interview, ask about next steps, and make sure to thank your interviewer before you leave.
Show some personality
This isn’t in Jack’s piece, but showing off your uniqueness in a professional manner will help you stand out, too.
James Philip, founder of Heavy Hitter Holdings, suggests a little humor and levity go a long way. You want to appear to be someone capable of putting in the hard work, but you also want to look like someone fun to work with. Striking that balance can be a rewarding challenge.
Indeed suggests wearing bold colors to make your professional attire pop. As long as it matches well and isn’t an eyesore, a brightly colored tie or dress shirt can help you stand out visually. You may not want to emulate Saul Goodman’s actions, but the man knows how to wear colorful suits!
All of your previous interview advice applies as well, but these particular tips should give you the extra edge to stand out in your next interview. A fully engaged, well-prepared, courtesy candidate is a hiring manager’s dream. Let your personality come across and your sincerity will surely be noted.