Newsflash! When asked to describe themselves during an interview, virtually every savvy candidate you are competing against will claim to be a good team player, smart, excellent problem solver, a people person and driven to succeed. I'm here to tell you something: so what. When an interviewer begins to hear this familiar list of descriptors, they might be able to finish your sentence for you because so many people before you said the exact same thing. Surprised? Don't be. Setting yourself apart from everyone else begins with your ability to present yourself as relatable and real instead of overly rehearsed and unnatural.
Of course it is important to hire a candidate with relatable skills, but perhaps equally or even more important, is finding a candidate who will fit into the culture of the organization. In other words, the interviewer is trying to determine who you really are and if you have innate personal qualities such as a sense of humor, ability to learn quickly, maturity and confidence. Your interviewer knows that most skills can be learned on the job, but they "get what they get" when it comes to your personal instinctive qualities. Getting hired begins with demonstrating your unique passions and desires, but it doesn't stop there.
Want to know how to get hired? Read on.
Demonstrate drive and commitment.
What companies are looking for is whether or not you have the "muscle" to be committed to anything. If you do, then it is likely you will become committed to their organization and the specifics of your job. If you don't, it is unlikely you will suddenly develop it once hired. This is where your unique passions and desires come into play. The best way they are going to determine if you have the ability to commit to their organization is to discover if you've done so in the past. Your example of drive and commitment doesn't necessarily need to be directly related to the exact job you're applying for. It just has to be real and genuine. For example, if you were a college athlete or are a marathon runner, you have certainly shown discipline, commitment and passion. This is an innate personal quality that you will bring with you wherever you go.
Tell them why they want you.
Virtually every candidate gets caught up in long stories focused on what they have done in the past, and what they want from you to help further their career. You will stand out if you come prepared to tell the company what you will do for them. When preparing for the interview, take the time to compare the job description with your abilities so you can give concrete examples of what you've accomplished in the past. Translate it into statements of what you will do for them.
If you don't care enough to take the time to research before your interview, the company will know rather quickly that you don't really care about their opportunity. Demonstrate your genuine interest in their organization and your resourcefulness by preparing yourself through research. Google the company, the CEO and anyone you know you'll be interviewing with. Read the entire company website and their blog too. Impress them by coming prepared with questions about their accomplishments and business highlights.
Don't act desperate.
Maybe you've been looking for the perfect job to replace the one you were unexpectedly laid off from months ago. Perhaps you are dying to escape from a nightmare boss and terrible working environment. Keep your game face on and don't let your inner job-search panic show. Job searching is a lot like dating. Nobody is attracted to someone who comes across as desperate. A confident and collected temperament is vital during your job search.
While these pointers are meant to make you stand out, it is also important not to overlook the expected baseline of having an error-free, results-oriented resume and customized cover letter. Don't take for granted the importance of making a good first impression with top-notch business attire, confident posture and a deliberate handshake. Never underestimate the significance of following up with a thank-you note, and preparing your references for a possible phone call.
Your next interview doesn't need to be nerve-wracking or uncomfortable. Arm yourself with a confident mindset and follow these tips to help you stand out. Next time, you will interview like a pro.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, professional development and executive coaching for more than 13 years. She brings leadership experience from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, non-profit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.changeagentsee.com.