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8 Hacks to Help You Stand out in Interviews

8 Hacks to Help You Stand out in Interviews

You have gotten through to the interview, so congratulations! You have done all your preparation and been through the company’s website so many times that you know it by heart. You have prepared everything very carefully, chosen the right outfit and you have prepared for all eventualities for getting there on time. But how do you actually do the interview to show off your strengths and make the best possible impact so that they must give you the job? Here are 8 hacks to make you stand out.

1. Make a positive first impression.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” —Harlan Hogan

Did you know that some companies now ask their front of house staff to report on the way candidates introduce themselves when they arrive for the interview? Courtesy always pays off.  Once you are inside the room, the main thing to remember is that you need to make eye contact, shake hands confidently and also smile. You have to make sure that you do not mumble or speak indistinctly. You cannot imagine a mumbler getting on the short list, can you?

2. Don’t dominate the conversation.

As someone has remarked, the interview is a dialogue, not a monologue. Whatever you do, do not go flat out to impress by talking too much and dominating the interview. You need to find out how the interviewers view the company and what their goals are. That can often be very illuminating and can guide you when answering their questions.

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3. Use the STAR method.

When you use this in answering questions, it is a great way to ensure that nothing gets left out. Start with the situation (S), then move on to the task (T). Talk about the action (A) you took which should be the dominant element and finish off with the result (R). They might ask you how you dealt with a problem when time was running out. You could give details of when your company had to give a presentation on a new product to industry leaders. The person who was to do this got stuck in a traffic jam. You had to find a replacement and you got some extra time by asking for a later time slot. You were able to find someone else and it went well. The original speaker was able to arrive for questions and useful contacts were made.

4. Be transparent about your weaknesses.

They always ask that question about your greatest weakness. If you respond by saying that you are just not on the same wavelength as those who don’t bring passion, dedication and diligence to the job, then nobody will believe you. No one is perfect and what they want to know is what happened and what you learned from a failure. Or perhaps they are homing in on some weakness you have as regards character and how you have dealt with that. You may be very impatient with less dedicated colleagues but you can only make an impact by saying how you deal with that in the workplace. Talk about the strategies you use to overcome any weakness so that it is always part of your development.

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5. Be positive about your previous work experience.

The message you want to get across is that you are on a learning curve and that difficult working conditions have actually helped you overcome some problems and made you more aware of certain issues. Once you start going on about all the negative aspects and criticizing people openly, then you can be sure that you are not going to be on the hire list. You are just confirming that you are indiscreet and perhaps, even worse, a whiner.

6. Ask searching questions.

When you are asked if you have any questions, forget all those rather trivial ones about sick pay, holidays, salary and bonuses. This is what all the other candidates are going to ask about. You are not going to fall into that trap. Why not find out what the company wants from you and what they expect you to achieve in the first three months? These opportunities may come up during the interview, rather than at the end. Whenever you get a chance to ask a question, use it to make yourself stand out. Ask them what they think the company will look like in a year’s time as regards their products, marketing, revenues or teams or whatever is relevant. Try asking them what you will need to concentrate on if you are to make the impact they want in the first three months. You could also find out what are the main challenges this position will need to solve in the long term.

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7. Show your passion and energy.

Most candidates are on a spectrum from the very shy to the show off. But what will really make you stand out is your ability to actually convey the passion and the energy you have for various parts of your work, your skills sets and your achievements. Yes, you can be modest about these but show that these are steps on the ladder. A great way to stand out is to show enthusiasm, confidence, energy and passion for the job. A dull, negative or passive person will never get the job.

8. Showcase your work.

It is not enough to actually say what you have done or what you organized. You need to have these things with you if they are relevant to the interview. If they ask you about what role you had in a fundraising event, why not actually show them the invitations, publicity, and other relevant documents? This is why it is so important to have these in your portfolio with you. You can whip them out at a moment’s notice. You have to ensure that they are all easily labelled and that there is no fumbling.

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Follow these techniques to make sure that you are going to be noticed and that you make a positive impact. If you do, your chances of getting the job will be much better.

Featured photo credit: Last thoughts during the interview/Matthew Hurst via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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