Have you ever thought about the interviewer as you meet them?
What they have been doing before your interview?
What they will be doing after you leave?
Most job seekers don’t think about the process from the employers perspective… understandably so.
Job seekers are focused on looking for good opportunities and presenting themselves in the best way they can to get that coveted job offer.
Consequently, job seekers usually focus on themselves, without giving much thought to what is happening to the person on the other side of the table — how the process looks and feels from the employer’s or the interviewer’s perspective.
3 Ways to Stand Out in a Positive Way
Consider, when you arrive for a job interview, it’s most likely your first job interview that day. However, for the person interviewing you, you may be the fourth interview that day out of a total of six they have scheduled.
Focusing on the employer may help you present yourself in a way that sets you apart.
While you may be glad to meet them, they are beginning to feel like all the candidates they’ve met so far are pretty much the same. They don’t necessarily recall all the things they liked about one person over another.
If you’re one of several candidates they’re meeting, how do you help the employer connect with you in a unique way compared to the others? Here are 3 suggestions:
1. Be Prepared!
Most job seekers don’t prepare very well for interviews. They vaguely think about how they will answer various questions, however, they’ve never gotten specific.
A well-prepared candidate stands out every time.
- Write out answers, and hone your sentences to be succinct and direct.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more.
- Have several stories of past work experiences and situations at your ready so that you can weave them appropriately into other questions.
Demonstrate your interest in this job and this employer by learning as much as you can about them before the interview. Build your “interview success checklist” to connect the job requirements with your experience and education.
Check their website (products, services, locations, people, news, etc.), search LinkedIn for information about the people who will be interviewing you, Google the employer and the people.
For more tips on preparing for your job interviews, read The Winning Difference: Pre-Interview Preparation.
2. Create dialog!
While most candidates have questions prepared for the end of their interview time when they are asked about questions they may have, very few interject questions during the interview to create a dialog.
The best interviews are 2-way conversations. Converting the interview into a conversation is also one of the best ways to set you apart from the crowd.
Asking appropriate follow-up questions after answering one is a terrific way to engage the interviewer in a way that most candidates don’t.
For example, if you are asked the following:
Can you give me a time you were able to complete a project successfully as part of a team?
After you answer the question appropriately, ask a logical follow-on question, like:
Can you tell me more about the team that I would be working with?
A give and take dialog throughout the interview becomes more of a peer-to-peer conversation and shows that you have a greater ability to communicate and greater interest than other candidates.
For more tips on asking questions in job interviews, read 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview.
3. Ask for next steps!
Few job seekers are willing to ask tough questions at the end of an interview. You will set yourself apart if you do.
Ask things like the following:
- Based on our conversation here today, do you expect I will be asked back to continue in the process?
- Are there any concerns you may have about my background or fit for the role that would prevent me from being further considered?
- If I don’t hear from you soon, when would be the best time frame for me to follow up regarding next steps?
You may not always like the answer you get, but at least you know rather than wait indefinitely for a call that may never come.
You may also not always get a definitive answer. However, you have shown that you’re willing to be direct, take initiative, and be more proactive than the vast majority of other people they’re speaking to.
For more questions to ask, read 50+ Good Questions to Ask in Interviews.
The Bottom Line
When you’re the “fourth candidate today,” you have to do things differently from everyone else in order to stand out from the others they’ve seen. If you are the first candidate, you must be memorable so you still leave a positive impression after all the other candidates have been interviewed. Consider the process from the employer’s point of view, and you’ll see the importance of differentiating yourself!
More About Job Interview Success:
- Smart Answers to Interview Questions
- Smart Strategies for Answering Behavioral Interview Questions
- 10 Deadly Job Interview Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
- The Top 4 Job Interview Success Tips
- Job Interview Thank You Guide
- Job Interviews: How to Ask the Right Questions for insight into the two-way aspect of job interviews, plus more questions to ask.
About the author…
Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as an independent recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @HarryUrschel and on LinkedIn.