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Interviews - Standing out from the crowd

You and your skill set have beaten the filters, and now you are in the interview room.   The interview starts, introductions are over and the door opens.

The new person is introduced and you reach up from your chair, and shake the hand offered to you.  In many situations, you have now lost momentum.   Stand up, smile and shake firmly.  Staying in your chair immediately gives the wrong impression.   The same goes if anybody leaves the room and is not coming back.


An interview is a "getting to know you" conversation for both sides.  If it is reduced to a Q & A by the interviewer, your personality will not come over.  In other words, you need to be ready to start a few topics yourself, without making the deadly mistake of taking control of the meeting.

And don't always answer with the apparent right answer, try to differentiate yourself, so that you will be remembered.   HR departments might be searching for multiple jobs, so you need to stand out in the conversation, too.

Social responsibility or hobbies are key differentiators, so if you do charity work, mention it, and if you have a fun, interesting hobby, it is also worth highlighting.

Questions you should ask

The second interview (or third or fourth) can make this tricky, especially if you have asked all your normal questions already.   Put together a list of 5 to 10 questions that are general, but can be tailored to be more specific in the interview eg

  • I understand that this role is a new one.   Are the key deliverables already in place, or will the successful candidate participate in putting them together?
  • What impact does this role have on the company's objectives for this year?
  • What is your history in the company?   Have you been promoted to this position or were you hired for the role?
Not having anything to ask diminishes the impact of your presence.

Create an "if I got the job" scenario

If you ask the right questions, or listen carefully to their questions, you might be able to build a story line around what you would do once you start.   This will put a picture into the interviewer's mind of you in the role.

A favourite question is "how do you handle criticism".   Many people respond by simply saying I handle it well, stay calm and learn from the experience.  That doesn't really do much to put forward your case, it is a standard answer.

But if you respond "Well lets say that I am working for you, Mr Interviewer, and you tell me that, while my work is on time, the detail and technical information required is not sufficient.   My approach would be to ask you for clarity on what is missing, request a few minutes of your time to go through the work and establish what I could have done better, and then redo the work in my own time, so that you and the company are not impacted."

Its still short, but it is more well though out, and provides a scenario where the interviewer is drawn in.


Today, you have to know what the company does.   You can ask where your role would fit in, and is it strategic or not, but if you haven't read the website from Home Page to FAQs, you are not prepared.  Look up a few of their competitors, as well.   Check out the industry.   Research makes you noticeable in the right way.

There are multiple candidates for most positions, and once you are granted a face to face interview, it is up to you to ensure that you come across positively.

Never forget that you are interviewing each other, though.   Their company culture and your personality and work ethic, should come over, and the impression you give, and gain, from Reception, to interview, to farewell, all need to be right for the next step, a job offer, to be made and accepted.

Airplane Jet Stream Blue Sky  56412 480x320"As important as that first impression is the impact you leave behind.  In the same way a jet liner leaves a jet stream in its trail, people should leave a lingering memory that they were there.   Will they remember you half an hour after you have left?   If your personal jet stream is a positive one, more opportunities will come your way." 

Links, References and Notes

twitter:   @TerylSchroenn


Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source

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