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How to stand out in an interview

Jun 08, 2016

What can you bring to the team? 

This is the question that we all fear when preparing for an interview. The question that sends shivers up our spine whenever we think about it the night before. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

A job interview can be an overwhelming experience, and we can’t think of anybody who enjoys preparing for questions that may not be asked, and going into a room with strangers to talk about themselves.

Hopefully we can provide you with some useful tips to conquer these fears and help you shine above all others in an interview situation.

Interviewer Questions

Firstly, let’s have a look at a couple of generic interview questions. As most of you are aware, there are a couple of questions that will usually come up in an interview:

·         What can you tell us about our company?

Companies tend to ask this question at the beginning of the interview to check if you have been pro-active in researching their business.

  Doing the appropriate research shows the interviewer that you are excited to learn more about their products and services. This will provide an instant positive attitude for all of the remaining questions, so you are already in their good books right from the beginning. If someone has not done any research, this comes across as lazy and uninterested, therefore research is a must.

·         Describe yourself in 3 words

This question doesn’t always come up; however interviewers like to ask this to see how well you deal with thinking on your feet. When put on the spot, it can be surprisingly tricky to promote yourself in three words, especially when trying to think of words that nobody else has used to stand out above others.

If possible, try to think about these words the night before the interview. Words such as; Reliable, Positive and Polite are all well and good, however it’s a good idea to think outside the box when reacting to this question. Good words to use could be; Consistent, Dynamic and Caring. When applying these in your interview, be sure to following up with reasons why. A lot of people unintentionally give off the impression that they just want the interview question over and done with. Explaining reasoning around your personality keywords will definitely keep the interviewer interested. Keep the interviewers writing, it’s a good thing.

Finally, it’s very easy to unintentionally use more than one word when describing yourself, especially when put on the spot. “Hard working” and “Team player” are two words, and although these are good answers to have, it was not the question asked by the interviewer, so be cautious.

Going above and beyond

It is always useful to do something that isn’t necessarily required for the interview that will take the interviewers by surprise. Depending on the job role, this could be anything from creating your own version of the company’s newsletter, or simply creating a plan on how you can help their business for the future. Whether it’s a good plan or not, the point is that you have gone out of your help to do something different to show your excitement concerning this job opportunity. Stand out from the other candidates.

Body Language

I am sure that many of you would have heard about body language techniques when in any social situation. Although this may not be intended, people around the world have the ability to make automatic, snap decisions about a person just by looking at their body language, before they even open their mouths. This is why it is one of the most important aspects of a social meeting, and you need to make the first impression count as it will undoubtedly affect the rest of the interview.

Key Body Language & Facial Expressions:

·         Back straight

·         Hands out of pockets

·         Arms open (not crossed)

·         Smile

·         Leaning forward (when appropriate)

Leaning forward can give out a positive and negative affect, so be careful. You don’t want to always be leaning forward because you need to show that you are confident, with good posture. You should lean forward occasionally when listening to the interviewer to express your interest in what they have to say. A good time to do this is usually when they explain a little bit about their company. Look interested!

Interviewee Questions

As you will know, an interviewer will always end with asking if you have any questions for them. Unfortunately a lot of people take this as a huge sigh of relief because they can just say “no” and that means that the dreaded interview is finally over. This is a massive waste of a golden opportunity as you now have the chance to put them on the spot. Asking questions does two things:

1.       It allows you to ask any questions that they may not have covered during the interview. It’s a good opportunity to ask about progression within the company and also about what they can provide you with. Remember, they are looking for another employee to come and work for them, so make it clear that it is you who they need.

2.       It is again a great way to show the interviewer that you are 100% interested in the company. Ask questions about the business, push the interviewer to answer a question concerning how they plan to improve their business going forward. The important thing is to stay polite and friendly, these questions are good, but only when relaying your excitement, not expressing your demands.

So what can you bring to the team? A whole lot it seems!

Just remember these simple summary tips:

·         Research (take the time)

·         Strong handshake

·         Speak clearly (no hand in front of your mouth)

·         Positive body language

·         Positive attitude

·         Questions for the interviewer

·         Going above and beyond to stand out