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Interview Tips to Shine Against The Competition

As a recruiter, you are never really off-duty.  We are frequently asked for job interview advice by family, friends, and neighbors.  Like you, most of them know the basics.  What they’re really seeking are ways to distinguish themselves in a competitive environment.  Here are our top three ways to accomplish this:

1. Be Clear and Concise about Leaving Your Previous Company

People tend to over explain their separation from their previous employment.  They offer detailed explanations that may involve the personalities and politics involved.  This is unnecessary and takes away from your time to sell the hiring manager on why you are the best fit for that job.

Instead, be very clear and concise about leaving your previous company.  Make your answer quick and easy to understand since the longer the answer, the less believable it is.  Here, practice makes perfect.  Since you know the question will be coming, work hard beforehand on crafting a concise answer that casts you as a prepared professional transitioning toward a new challenge.

2. Ask Insightful Questions (Ones You Can’t Answer Online)

Asking good questions is an important part of a job interview.  Too often, people ask generic questions whose answers can be found easily through simple company research, such as “How big is your company?” or “Where are your other offices located?”  Don’t ask questions if the answers are available at your fingertips.  Get beyond these questions by taking advantage of what the web has to offer.

Websites like LinkedIn and ZoomInfo offer great ways to learn more about companies and the people that work for them.  Research about the company and its people will allow you to ask deeper, more thoughtful questions.  Perhaps you can learn more about the hiring manager and some of the intangible pieces not listed in the job description. How is success measured, what attracted you to the company, what has kept you there? What advice do you have to best meet the goals; do you share similar backgrounds and experiences? This information can help you develop a bond or, at the very least, differentiate yourself from the people asking generic business questions.

3. Be Accomplishment Focused

Candidates try hard to match their skills and experience with a job description.  This makes sense to get an interview, but it may not help you during the interview if you simply repeat the job description back to the interviewer.  We would urge you to get beyond the basics and show how your past accomplishments, not just your previous responsibilities, match the job.

Focusing on accomplishments means taking a hard look at your experience and matching it with what the end goals are for your future employer.  This focus may allow you to speak about your experience in a more dynamic way while asking better questions about what your new employer really wants to achieve.  This approach can be a huge advantage when used effectively. For example, “As a benefits professional, I was most proud of my ability to realize a $100 million cost-savings because of a creative plan adjustment.”

Differentiate Yourself

Job interviews provide you with a platform.  It’s up to you to distinguish yourself among the final candidates.  This means avoiding common pitfalls, like stumbling over questions about your previous employment, and going beyond the basics with great questions and a self-awareness regarding your past accomplishments and your future employer’s needs and goals.  Take this advice and work hard to incorporate it into your interview prep, and you will stand out in a crowd.

Photo Credit: ACW