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Career Advice

Follow these 6 tips to stand out at interview!

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever before – if you find yourself at interview you’re likely to be up against some formidable opposition. So, what can you do you to make sure you’re the person who sticks in the interviewer’s minds? – for the right reasons!

  1. Align your passion!

Finding someone who ticks all the boxes in the job description is fairly easy when the job market is as saturated as it currently is, so if you want to impress, your attitude is going to have to shine through. When he was in the CEO’s seat at Apple, Steve Jobs explained how he would decide if someone had the right attitude for his company:

“I want to know if someone is going to share my passion for the company. I want to know what a person stands for, what they’re passionate about.”

If you can explain to an interview panel why your attitude is aligned with their company’s ethos, you’re going to impress. A word of warning though, make sure you do your homework, generic answers aren’t going to cut the mustard here – learn about the company and think about how your skills and passions fit the bill.

  1. Ask for help preparing

Do you know anyone in the same industry as the role you’re going to be interviewed for? If so, ask, beg or bribe them for help to prepare! There are going to be elements of the role that you don’t know about – and perhaps even intricacies that aren’t highlighted in job descriptions. With this in mind, a good industry contact can be invaluable.

No one familiar to hand? No problem, talk through some of your prepared answers with someone who will sit in front of you, sometimes what you have prepared sounds great in your head, but might not sound as concise or thought-through as you’d like when it rolls off your tongue.

Don’t be embarrassed to role play, this is the time to make mistakes – would you rather look foolish in front of a friend – or in front of an interview panel?

  1. Understand the critical business points

Every company has critical business processes that the rest of the company is built around. Understand these and you’ll understand what’s important to the people you’re going to be sitting in front of. For many people, the point where company meets customer is where the organisation lives or dies.

This is going to be somewhat specific to the job role you’re looking at, so if you’re a marketing manager position you’re going to want to have a good handle on the impact of marketing, innovations in the field and how other key points affect the organisation. For IT personnel, you might want to brush up on network cost reduction, end-user experience and other IT issues that have an impact on business. Look for good articles like this one to ensure you’re at the cutting edge.

You’re going to be interviewed by managers whose job it is to see the bigger picture. Understand how the role you’re applying for fits into that picture.

  1. “What are your weaknesses?”

This is the classic question that interviewers love to pose! But what’s the right answer? What we can tell you with certainty is that it’s not a lengthy list of your bad habits – instead, interviewers are likely to be looking for some level of self-awareness.

87% of business decision makers cite self-awareness as one of the top desirable traits in a potential employee. Mark Sissons, a senior City of London recruitment consultant explains:

“The employee who goes home and asks themselves how they can improve on today’s performance is highly sought-after. Employers no longer have to settle for a safe pair of hands who rest on their laurels when there are people out there who’ll strive for the business’s goals every day.”

So, if you’re ready with some information about how you handle yourself when you encounter problems you’re on a winning path.

  1. You’re being interviewed from the moment you apply

From the second you apply for the job you’re under scrutiny – conduct yourself as such. Prior to walking through the door on interview day assume that someone is going to have looked at your social media presence – and when you arrive, don’t think that nervous impatience with admin staff won’t get reported back.

Think about the last thing you posted on Facebook, your last tweet or the picture you took and posted to Instagram. How would you feel showing it to your interviewers? More and more employers are turning to social media to get an accurate portrayal of the person they’re taking on.

We’re not saying it’s right, nor are we saying you shouldn’t be yourself – but if you are going to post a video of yourself downing tequila shots on a Wednesday evening, you might want to tweak your privacy settings.

  1. Use social media to understand who’s interviewing you

It’s not just employers who use social media to their advantage – a savvy interviewee will spend some time looking into the people who are going to be at the opposite side of the table – and working out what makes them tick.

The chances are you’re going to know who’s interviewing you prior to your arrival – and increasing numbers of professionals tweet and blog about their professional position. If you discover they’re heading up a new project, learn about it. If they’ve eluded to likes and dislikes, act accordingly. Share a hobby? Bring it up.

It’s best not to confess to in-depth cyber observations – but if you can indicate a shared like, passion or understanding then you’re going to be head and shoulders above others who’ve not been so smart.

Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what you’d be looking for if you were at the other side of the discussion. Nerves are normal, so don’t worry about that. You’ll be amazed at how much confidence you can pick up through continual role-play, so keep practicing these fundamentals and it’ll pay off when you take to the hot seat…


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