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8 Hacks to Help You Stand out in Interviews

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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

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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 August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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