Some jobs attract a lot of applicants, that’s just a fact of life. So how do you stand out in an interview? Even when the other candidates are more experienced? Even if there are only a few other people applying you need to make yourself stand out. Especially if you are applying for a job that is a step up from your current role.
Of course, you should do all the usual things.
- proof-read your CV
- ensure that there are no typos
- maintain the same font all the way through
Yet it’s surprising how many people submit CVs and cover letters that are full of errors. This is especially painful when they are explaining what a good eye for detail they have! Make sure the CV is tailored to the job for which you are applying. If your CV isn't getting you interviews then it's time to rewrite your CV.
Aside from this, give some real thought to the role and what the recruiters are looking for. That's when it's time to try the following ideas to help you stand out.
Be courteous and friendly
The HR team is likely to be quite well-known and powerful within any company. If they email you to invite you to interview, telephone them to confirm that you will attend. It gives you a chance to talk to them and maybe find out more about the organisation.
Ensure that you ask if they a minute to talk first before you leap into fall interrogation mode. They will often tell the interviewers that you were pleasant when they spoke to you.
After the interview, send a hand-written note to the interviewers. Even if you don’t get this job, they’ll remember you if something else comes up. Besides, you never know when you might meet them in future. More experienced candidates may assume that they do not need to do this. Which is why it presents an opportunity to stand out.
Do your research
The first thing to do in any job application is to research the role and the company. There is nothing worse than a candidate who has no answer when asked, “What do you know about us?”
Experienced candidates will either know the company or do their research. So your task is to identify the key information you'll need and weave this into your answers if you want to stand out.
It’s about far more than knowing that the company has been in existence for 50 years and has a turnover of £x. It's about knowing the value proposition of the company or better still, their goals as a business. If you can identify opportunities and challenges then all the better! A simple Google and social media search can help you find some great information to help you get started.
It’s not just about your ‘day job.’ You can look elsewhere for elements in your life where you've stood out. This may be your best chance of beating more qualified candidates to a coveted position.
What have you done outside of your work that will make you an asset to your new employer? For example, if you are going for a marketing job, do you have a blog that showcases your ability to write good copy?
Are you a Scout Leader or do you volunteer as someone who helps clear rivers? How might this relate to the job for which you’ve applied? As a scout leader, for example, you might have had to deal with conflict in the group.
You can extrapolate that to dealing with issues in the workplace. Clearing rivers requires practical, logical thinking which can also translate into other roles.
How would you answer this question?
“How does x department add value?”
Practice and prepare for how might answer this in an interview. If you want to stand out in an interview it may take extra research or preparation but it will be worth it. Get this right and it will help you throughout the interview process.
Working through the impact that your role will have on other teams provides more insight. Insight that will help you to stand out during the interview.
If you have a network in a related area could also help you stand out. Imagine a scenario where experienced professionals know all the same people. Could someone with a different network add significant value? They definitely can and so you should use that to your advantage.
If you have a creative hobby or side gig then this could have a positive influence on your application. Include any projects that demonstrate your capabilities and may help you stand out in an interview. Provided you are not competing with your potential employers.
Anyone who has their own business learns a wide range of skills outside of their core role. If you are a graphic designer, you will also learn (at least some) additional skills. Skills in marketing, sales, book-keeping, and so forth. Think about how you can introduce this information in your interview if it'll improve your application.
Cultural fit is very important when securing a new job. Or from the hiring managers side, finding people that fit in with the team.
Just because someone is experienced doesn't mean they will fit in well. You should also remember that the interview should help you decide if you still want the job. So being genuine throughout the process is going to help you to work that out!
Try to let your personality shine through. Remember to show interviewers your traits that are most beneficial to the role.
Practice makes perfect
It may seem obvious but the importance of practice cannot be underestimated. Once you have considered the various elements of your application, practice is key!
Consider the kind of questions you would ask if you were the interviewer. This will allow you to prepare your answers and put your best foot forward.
Practice variations of your answers and decide which ones feel most suitable to you. By having multiple answers this will allow you to flex your answers at other times. Providing you with excellent answers to a variety of questions.
If you’re looking for a new role then check out our latest vacancies for more info.