7 Ways To Make An Impact In Your Job Interview
When you apply for a new position, chances are there’s a whole bunch of people with similar qualifications and experience going for exactly the same role.
Essentially, that’s the purpose of a good position description – to attract a suite of candidates with the desired skills and knowledge – so the hiring manager can leverage interviews to find someone who is the right cultural fit for the organisation.
If we imagine that your CV is top notch and has already landed you an interview, your opportunity to stand out from other interviewees begins the second you get that call or email.
From what you say to how you say it, every interaction offers a new chance to shine. And because first impressions happen very quickly, and last a long time, let’s look at how you can make a great one…
You may have ambition, but how do you show it? How do you make an interviewer feel your excitement for the role, without saying something super generic like “I’m really excited about this position!”?
Here are a few different ways to show ambition:
- Respond to every email or call with a “thank you”
- Research the company and position before your interview
- Prepare your responses beforehand
- Show up to the interview (a little bit) early
Also, look for ways that you could progress in the company and consider how it aligns with your career goals. This will help you talk confidently and purposefully, and show that you want this job for the long haul, not just to pay the bills.
Employers need people who have a bit of grit behind them and can work through problems on their own.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a difficult situation, so be prepared to demonstrate how you have done that in the past. Look for situations (at school, at work, or in your personal life – without getting too personal) where you were presented with a challenge and you tackled it head-on.
This could be anything from turning something around on a tight deadline, to successfully completing a project with limited resources, navigating difficult change, and so on. Explain how the challenge impacted you, and how you worked through it to be successful.
If you don’t really want the job, don’t apply. If you do really want it – show it!
It’s understandable to be nervous in interviews, and this is something you can work on with practice or help from a recruiter. But there’s a big difference between nerves and apathy. Acting like you don’t care will quickly lead to the door.
According to scientists, first impressions are formed in less than one-tenth of a second when you meet someone face to face. So when the face of your interviewer looks at you, make sure yours is upbeat, bright-eyed, and smiling!
When you talk, be energetic and optimistic. Don’t slouch or appear restless, and do try to keep good eye contact throughout the interview.
Curiosity shows that you care. When you are naturally curious about something, it means you are thinking more deeply about it, and that’s what employers like to see!
Stand out from the crowd by researching the broader industry and company of the job you are applying for, and looking for ways to engage with the interviewer. This could be something as simple (but insightful) as “I noticed one of your competitors is taking this approach – what are your thoughts on that strategy?”
Having a well-rounded CV with lots of experience in your industry also shows curiosity. If you’ve worked in a number of different industries, make time to link those roles back to the one you’re applying to now, rather than trying to explain away what could be seen as a fragmented career.
5. Transparency… and a little humility
Lying is a big turn off for recruiters and hiring managers, and it’s usually pretty easy to spot the signs. If you really want the job, be open about who you are and what you can bring to the table.
That being said, some candidates spend entire interviews trying to sell themselves, and this can be off-putting too. Don’t be afraid to be candid about your faults (within reason!) and recognise that there have been times when you haven’t quite succeeded.
We all know what it’s like to be human. Success is not guaranteed all the time, so don’t be afraid to be real and honest. What’s important to employers is your ability to learn, grow, adapt, and keep striving for what you want.
6. Look the part
If you want the role, you need to look the part. Remember how fast we make a first impression? It starts with how we look. So get a good night’s sleep, have a shower and wash your hair (and comb it!), brush your teeth, wear appropriate workwear, and spray some cologne or perfume.
Many people also have nervous tics, so try to work out what yours are and keep them under control if possible. They’re probably not going to hurt your chances of success, but just being aware of them can help you minimise their impact during the interview.
7. Last but not least…
If you need a strong coffee to be able to give a proper handshake at the interview, do it! No one wants to shake hands with a fish, so offer up a good strong grip with a sincere smile.