Some are great at job interviews. They exude confidence, nail each question and have magnetizing charisma. It just comes naturally to them. A superstar in the making, their oozing charm lets them skate past any social skill check with ease. Others do not, fumbling and choking, leaving awkward silences and unanswered questions, and that’s okay. There are always job interview tips to help you prepare.
Fortunately, winning your dream job doesn’t always boil down to your social abilities. While being able to speak about yourself is certainly an important part, there are always other subtle ways to improve your impression of the hiring manager. As a staffing agency, we’ve seen them all (and we mean all). Therefore, we are going to share some of the secret formula with you, the interviewee.
No need to thank us.
Here are unique job interview tips you may have never heard of. Stand out from the crowd and boost your chances of winning that dream job.
- Why It’s Important to Stand Out
- 1. Do Your Research
- 2. Start With Casual Conversation to Stand Out
- 3. Sprinkle Some Wit
- 4. Dress to Express
- 5. Ask Thoughtful Questions During the Interview
- 6. Accept the Beverage
- 7. Don’t Be Afraid to Brag
- 8. Eye Contact and Posture
- 9. Ask About Any Resume Concerns
- 10. Take a Notepad
- 11. Have Interesting Stories Ready
- 12. Yes, Yes, Yes
- 13. Speak Slowly
- 14. Have a Laugh
- 15. End With a Call to Action
- 16. Follow-Up After the Interview
Why It’s Important to Stand Out
Before even beginning your interview process, it’s important to remember what you are up against.
According to a recent study by Forbes, around 118 people apply for a single job. On top of that, only 20% of applicants make it to the interview process.
While we believe having confidence in your resume and experience is key (if not the most important key) to winning a job, it’s all part of an overarching process. Your resume and interviewing skills may be great, sure, but what do they have against 117 others? Is it really that impressive?
That’s where psychology steps in. That’s where the small-yet-unique bonus abilities become important. There’s more to standing out than just being a great worker. It takes more than just a fantastic list of work and skills. Though some may not like the concept of other factors at play, it’s the hard truth.
Long story short, you need more than just a great resume to stand out, hence the unique job interview tips here.
1. Do Your Research
Firstly, researching the company before you interview with them is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t show up to a negotiation without knowing what you’re selling. But researching the job is more than knowing the basics. It is about going full-sleuth (without the trenchcoat and hat, probably).
Whether a temp agency or direct hire business, you should know everything about the company. 47% of recruiters told Twin Employment they would reject a candidate who had little knowledge about their company.
Overall, ask yourself how you can prove you went the extra mile. Try to figure out the company’s culture. Read reviews on job boards by former employees to sense how the business operates. Do they seem artistic and expressive? Do they implement lightheartedness on their website? Are they serious and to the point?
It isn’t prying to look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn to get a sense of them. Overall, you’re attempting to sell yourself to them during the interview process. Tailor your responses to the company’s values.
Secondly, find ways to prove you did extensive research without outright saying it. For example, if you found that the company worked on a specific study a few years ago, bring it up in conversation organically. “I saw that you did a study about IT back in 2017. I, too, worked on a similar study at my last company.”
If the hiring manager mentions something about you doing your research or knowing the company well, you’re already a step above other candidates.
After all, knowing how to stand out in your job interview starts with acknowledging how the job wants you to stand out.
2. Start With Casual Conversation to Stand Out
Everything does not need to be business. It is critical to stand out beyond your work values. Employers tend to remember when candidates have similar interests or provide engaging conversations outside of the job.
It is not always about how great your resume is. You don’t want to just impress the employer; you want to make a genuine connection.
Furthermore, if your interview is in-person, take note of visual cues in the office. Is there a sports team banner on the wall? Maybe there is a book that you’ve read on the desk. Use whatever you see as a gateway to banter.
If your interview is not in-person, this technique can be a little arduous. Try to look for things when researching the company you can bring up. If you saw an interesting post on their social media, ask them about that. This can also be a double win, showing them you did your research and having a genuine conversation.
When all else fails, ask them how their day is going. When they ask you in response, be open. Mention something interesting that you did or are going to do. All in all, prove that you are more than just your work. You’re an interesting person, too.
Of course, keep the casual talk brief unless the interviewer continues the conversation further. You do not want to come across as if you’re uninterested in the job or are stalling.
3. Sprinkle Some Wit
Much like the casual conversation, you do not want to seem like work is the only thing you do. You’re not a robot.
Never has an interviewer said, “That person had no personality, let’s hire them.”
Feel free to show a little charisma. This lets the employer know that you are not a bore and expresses your confidence in the interview.
Granted, this is not an open-mic opportunity. Do not start rattling off jokes as if you have practiced them. Keep things professional, but do not be afraid to show some personality.
Nevertheless, if you do not believe you’re funny, or the company seems fairly serious, show your personality in another way. If they ask you what your hobbies are outside of work, don’t give dry answers. Give them a little more detail about yourself.
At the end of the day, being unique is key for how to stand out in your job interview.
4. Dress to Express
Knowing how to stand out in your job interview is more than just what you say. You want to look good, and when you look good, you feel good.
While this does not mean to go full Craig Sager with a floral suit, you do want to stick out physically. Dress within the confines of professional attire, but have a look the hiring manager will remember.
Ultimately, remember that there are psychological values behind colors and patterns. Brighter colors like red and green exude confidence, while darker colors like black and grey show power and drama.
As stated, showing personality is pivotal. Your appearance for interviews is more than just looking well-put-together.
5. Ask Thoughtful Questions During the Interview
Remember that this is not an interrogation. Have unique questions ready for the interview and attempt to ask them throughout. Do not wait till the end of the interview.
While you do not want to take control of the interview and reverse roles, you want the process to come off as a conversation. A back-and-forth of questions between you and the interviewer can help ease you and show confidence.
Importantly, try to fit the questions in organically. Do not interrupt or talk over the hiring manager. Feel free to say, “Sorry to interrupt, but I have a question.” This will show them that you are polite and engaged, helping the interview continue to flow naturally.
Finally, remember your research. The questions should be distinctive and show your interest in the company.
Unique Question Examples
If you are wondering which direction your questions should head in, we broke them all down in an article here.
Don’t have time to peruse another wonderful article by us? That’s okay. We will place a few examples below.
10 Unique Interview Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
- What’s the Company Culture Like?
- What Is the Company’s Greatest Competitive Advantage?
- What Are the Biggest Challenges the Team Has Faced This Year?
- What Advice Will Help Me Succeed at This Company?
- What Kind of Personality Would or Wouldn’t Work With This Team?
- What Does Success Look Like at This Job?
- Is There Anything Missing From My Resume? (We’ll get to this one later)
- What Do You Like the Most About Your Job?
- Is This a New Position? If Not, Why Is There a Vacancy?
- What Is Your Management Style?
Of course, if you have any specific questions about the company or job, ask them. It’s important to clear up any information you are missing at this point. No question is wrong. Ask whatever you need to know. Just be sure to ask something to show engagement. If you don’t have any genuine questions, look at the list above.
6. Accept the Beverage
This is one of the odd job interview tips, but it’s useful.
If the interviewer asks you if you would like a glass of water (or any beverage), take it. Do not hesitate. This shows that you are relaxed and confident.
Once again, these are the small psychological advantages that can put you above your competition. We will repeat multiple times throughout all of the job interview tips that confidence is key. This is not us attempting to blow smoke or set you up for failure. You must be confident in your abilities, even if your resume doesn’t necessarily match.
Drinking that water might just help put you over the edge.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Brag
Confidence is key (See? I told you). You need to express that you are sure of your abilities and proud of your accomplishments. The fact that you got to the interview shows that you have something they’re looking for, now you just need to show it.
Therefore, do not be afraid to talk yourself up. Bravado is impressionable, and companies want to hire someone that does not second-guess their skills. Let them know what you bring to the company and how you can improve what they’re doing. For example, if the job calls for IT but you have knowledge of sales, let them know how you can implement your outside skills.
If the employer asks you to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, don’t be modest. Say you think you are a 10 because you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
How can an interviewee be sure of you if you aren’t sure of yourself? Not too far from the infamous quote “How can you find someone to love you if you don’t love yourself?”
There’s some truth in the cliche. A report by Jobspin found that 39% of the candidates leave a bad impression due to their overall confidence level, voice quality, or lack of a smile.
As stated, you are attempting to sell yourself to the interviewer. You shouldn’t be completely cocky, stating that you can do anything or that you are better at your job than the interviewer, but you should be sure of your abilities for the role. Even just believing in yourself to do the job well will shine through in your answers.
All job interview tips here involve confidence in some way. Have it.
8. Eye Contact and Posture
More so than saying confident things, you want to express confident energy. Make sure to keep eye contact and good posture during the interview.
Now queue the collective sigh. Yes, eye contact is truly important. Though it’s an ability often out of reach for those with lower social skills or introverts, it’s something that needs to be practiced. A study by JobSpin found that 67% of recruiters feel that eye contact is crucial to making a good impression.
Do not cross your arms or seem bored. Keeping a straight back and eye contact will let the interviewer know you’re both engaged and excited.
If you’re particularly bad at eye contact, force your way through it. The interview will not last forever. The effort will pay off in the long run. Remember just how important it is to exude confidence through your eyes and aura. This could be a make-or-break scenario. No pressure. You’ve got this!
9. Ask About Any Resume Concerns
Here’s the riskiest of all job interview tips.
Toward the end of the interview, ask the hiring manager if there is anything missing or concerning on your resume so that you can explain it. This shows both humility and honesty. You are not attempting to hide anything or dodge any questions. You are ready to break down the nitty gritty and answer any question that needs to be addressed. After all, you want to get ahead of concerns before they swell into red flags.
You can get ahead of any miscommunication here. Though your resume should already be printed in gold with perfection amongst every line, sometimes mistakes are made. Maybe the interviewer has a misconception about a skill or job because you messed something up. Maybe they have a question they forgot to ask. Get it all out and open here.
Furthermore, this can help you create a better resume in the future (if you don’t get this job, of course).
Remember: this is not an opportunity to start making excuses. If the interviewer has a concern about your resume that you don’t have a reason for, don’t start lying. Let them know that it’s a valid point and explain why or how you can overcome it. Don’t start stating that you forgot to put it or you have a reason it didn’t happen.
For example, if the hiring manager states that they are concerned you don’t have much experience in the exact role, say that it’s a reasonable response. Say you are willing to do whatever it takes to learn the position and you believe your soft traits can help you succeed there.
Don’t say that you couldn’t get a job in the field because of excuses A, B, and C.
10. Take a Notepad
Want to look like you are really engaged? Want to make the hiring manager believe that you are both professional and organized? Take a notepad to the interview.
Taking notes shows the interviewer just how serious you are about the role. You want to latch on to every little detail, saving them for research later. You want to make sure you are ready to heed the call for the position as soon as it comes. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you are ready and knowledgeable.
Remember taking fake notes in school to make the teacher think you are paying attention? It’s the same psychological tip. You should be taking real notes, though.
Some interviews may require an NDA (depending on your field and the size of the company). Make sure to ask the interviewer at the beginning of the meeting if you can take notes. If they say no, you still showed them that you wanted to write everything down. It’s still a win. Therefore, always bring a notebook and pen.
11. Have Interesting Stories Ready
Most interviews will involve a section in which you are to tell a story. Most times, the interviewer will ask you to speak about a time that you had a great achievement or overcame an obstacle (so on and so forth). Unfortunately, this is where even the greatest interviewees falter. While you may believe that your story fits the narrative, showing how professional and able you are, if it’s boring, you are wasting time.
We aren’t saying that you need to be the next Mother Goose or famous comedian, weaving together a tale that puts Lord of the Rings to shame. Just have a few interesting stories at the ready. Make sure they are interesting to hear. Would you tell them to your spouse or friend?
There’s a contradicting line, though. You still want the story to show your ability and professionalism. Don’t go off on a tale with just a punchline. Have a purpose, but try to think of the most interesting and appropriate scenario you’ve faced in your career. There’s sure to be one somewhere.
12. Yes, Yes, Yes
Here’s a quick one: use the affirmative. Don’t use words like yeah, mhm, or yup. If you are asked a question, answer with ‘yes’.
It’s one of those small actions that go a long way. Though hiring managers may not notice the importance of it, they feel it subconsciously. Anything other than ‘yes’ just feels… wrong.
13. Speak Slowly
This is more than just one of our job interview tips. This is a tip for every public speaking adventure throughout your entire life. Once again, no need to thank us.
I can’t pinpoint which acting teacher I learned this from (in another life and another time), but you should always speak slowly. In fact, speak so slowly that you feel as if you are speaking too slowly. Chances are, speaking slowly to you will actually be at a normal pace.
When anxious, we have the tendency to speed up our speech tenfold. We can begin to rattle off information like a sputtering engine. Our brains don’t seem to notice, though. In our heads, we sound like we are speaking at normal speeds. This is not true for everyone, but it’s common for most with pre-interview jitters.
If you have ever been in an interview or public speaking setting and people have asked you to repeat yourself, you are probably speaking too fast (though you won’t notice).
Therefore, speak slower than you believe to be necessary. It will be fighting against your natural instinct, but chances are your natural instinct is too fast.
14. Have a Laugh
Job interview tips don’t always have to be stoic and serious.
Attitude is everything. While we won’t begin to wax spiritual about transferring and radiating energy, there is something to be said about moods being contagious. If you are in a good mood, it’s likely that everyone around you will feel it, helping put them in a good mood. Henceforth, you want to put your hiring manager in a good mood during and after the interview.
If you leave an interviewer in a good mood, they will have a genuinely elated opinion of you as a person. All job interview tips are bolstered by a surrounding feeling of happiness.
How do you get yourself into a good mood? It all depends on you as a person. Here are a few different ways:
- Watch your favorite comedy video or standup set before the interview. Get some good laughs in.
- Call one of your best friends before the interview to catch up and giggle.
- Get some exercise in the morning of the interview, if that’s your thing. Take a run, bike, or skate outside in the fresh air.
- Eat a balanced breakfast. No, really. Breakfast is important for your mood. Don’t be hangry.
- Give yourself something to look forward to after the interview. A nice treat of evening plans can help raise your overall mood.
15. End With a Call to Action
Much like a cover letter, ending your interview with a call to action is one of the best ways to stand out in your job interview.
Therefore, when the interview is over, and you are about to say your goodbyes, ask what the next step in the hiring process is or when you can plan to hear from them. This, like everything else on this list, shows confidence and seriousness in the job.
Knowing what the next steps are can also help with some post-interview anxiety. If the company says they will get back to you in a week, you do not have to fret every day that you don’t hear from them.
16. Follow-Up After the Interview
The period after a job interview can be one of the hardest times during the job hunt. While it may only be a few days for the employer, your perspective makes it feel like an eternity. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help you both relax and push the decision process along.
After a job interview, you have the chance to push a few attributes further into the employer’s head. Firstly, you can show them how much you care about the job by following up eagerly. Secondly, you can show them how professional you are with your next steps. Finally, everything you do after the job interview keeps your name fresh in the employer’s mind.
Send an email or handwritten letter to the manager a few days after the interview. Let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to speak with you and that you are excited about the potential opportunity. If you do not hear back by the end of that week, email them again. Thank them again, ask any ongoing questions you have, and ask if they have any idea on the timeline of the decision.
This action may seem overbearing, but it goes a long way. This shows respect and appreciation, things that reflect positively on your character. Job interview tips only get you so far, it’s what you do after and before that help, too.
Interested in hearing more about the follow-up process? We broke it all down here.
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