When applying for a job, making it to the interview stage is a great accomplishment, but when you’re up against many other qualified candidates, what do you do during the interview to set yourself apart? There are some common “rules” that most of us know – be on time, dress professionally, read up on the business beforehand – but in our time interviewing so many exceptional candidates, the most memorable interviews are with candidates who go the extra mile.
Here are a few things that made candidates stand out for us.
Speak highly of your former employer
The way you describe a former employer in an interview can tell a lot about your professionalism. For any organization, it is important to know that employees will serve as brand ambassadors for the company throughout their tenure and beyond. Also, having experience with exceptional companies can only reflect more highly on you as a candidate. So give the company credit for the opportunities it provided you to excel. The interviewer will appreciate your openness and remember you for it.
Answer directly, then give details
It may seem obvious, but acknowledging and answering the interviewers’ question is the first step on the road to a successful interview. Avoid starting with details, and instead respond with a direct statement which answers their question and then support with facts or anecdotes. For example, if you’re asked about handling conflicts, first acknowledge your experience with these situations from serving as a manager or project lead, and then outline a specific time when you effectively resolved a difficult situation with a co-worker or subordinate.
Show your personality
An interview is a short window of opportunity for a prospective employer to not only understand your capabilities, but also assess your compatibility with the organization. Organizational culture is important and, within the bounds of professional behavior, showing who you are, how you communicate with others and what your interests are will help them to understand whether you will be a fit for their culture or business model. At BOWEN, we look for candidates who demonstrate collaborative spirit and a commitment to always putting the customer first.
Sell the company
When asked, “Why do you want to work with us?”, have an answer which essentially pitches their own company back to interviewer, speaking to the value their organization brings to the community, customers, industry or investors. Many candidates talk about things they hope to gain by joining the company; the interviewers will take note when you demonstrate that you’ve thought about their mission and want to be a part of it.
Interview the interviewer
It’s important that, when given the opportunity to ask questions, you take it as a chance to also gauge your fit for the role and organization. Memorable candidates ask insightful questions about the role. For example, where does your prospective manager see the department in one, three, or five years? Not only will that tell you more about the company, it will also leave a striking impression on the interviewer. Leave the salary and benefits questions for HR.
An important point to remember is that the interviewer wants you to succeed. They are hoping that you walk in the door and convince them you are the outstanding candidate for the role.