10 tips to stand out at an interview

There is no point in having all the skills and knowledge if you cannot communicate. Interviews are not exams so don’t learn new things, rather organise yourself and seek to understand the people and business you are meeting. 

1. Do your research 

Start with the company’s website. Learn about their history, products and services, locations, partners and recent news releases. 

Read additional news articles online and find out about their competitors and developments in the market that may have an impact on their business. Consider speaking to someone in the same industry to get the inside scoop. 

Finally do research on the person you’re meeting, including their background, and any articles they have contributed to. 

You will come across as prepared and knowledgeable and you will be able to ask more informed questions and get a deeper perspective on your potential employer. 

Do your research a few days in advance so you go into the interview with a clear head and focus on the interviewer instead of trying to remember endless facts and figures. 

2. Understand the role 

Make sure you understand how the role traditionally fits into an organisation. 

If you have a good, basic understanding of the role you will be able to ask informed questions and get more detailed information. 

3. Be prepared for behavioural questions 

As a guide think about things like your proudest achievement, your biggest challenge and how you overcame it, a time you reacted dynamically or a time you had to resolve a conflict with a customer. 

When answering these questions, make sure you are very specific about your involvement. 

4. Prepare your own questions 

And write them down. There is a mixed opinion about taking questions to your interview so ask your agent or referral, or gauge the interviewer’s style. 

A step further than this is to prepare questions that are appropriate for the person you’re interviewing with. You might ask an HR manager about career progression, staff retention, employee training, the culture of the organisation and management styles. Whereas you might ask a CEO about strategic growth plans, financial performance and investors. 

5. Know where you’re going and arrive early 

There’s nothing worse than rushing for an interview or turning up late. It’s very difficult to get back on the front foot after a poor initial impression. Print out a map, get directions, find out whether there is parking and aim to arrive 10 minutes early. 

If you’re going to be late, make sure you let the interviewer know. 

Conversely do not turn up too early. If this is the case, take a moment to collect your thoughts and relax. 

6. Greet the interviewer properly 

First impressions are critical and the small things go a long way. It sounds simple but it can be easy to forget to shake hands firmly, look them in the eye and smile. 

7. Build rapport 

Pick up on something small to comment on or ask about to fill those often-awkward moments before and after interviews. 

Smile and be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet. You’d be surprised at how many candidates are declined because they were arrogant towards a receptionist. 

Remember and use people’s names when you talk to them. If you have difficulty remembering names, concentrate when you meet someone for the first time and repeat their name immediately. 

Match your interviewers body language. If they lean forward or cross their arms, do the same. If an interviewer is leaning forward to engage you and you’re sitting back with your arms crossed, there’s a fair chance you’re not doing a great job of creating rapport. 

8. Ask questions 

There’s nothing worse than a candidate with no questions at the end of an interview. Questions show you’ve been listening, you’re interested and you know enough about the role. 

Use questions from your preparation that were not answered and make sure you round off discussions and demonstrate your interest. 

Never ask questions on remuneration unless it’s the final interview and/or the interviewer raises the subject. 

9. Show your enthusiasm 

Employers want to hire people that really want to work for them. Passion and enthusiasm go a long way to ensuring you get offered the role. The key thing is to have the interviewer walk away thinking you’re the best person for the role. 

Once they’ve made that decision, you’re in a position of strength at the negotiating table. 

Note this doesn’t mean you should bend over backwards to accommodate the employer’s every request. You can be keen while being clear on your conditions for accepting the role. 

10. Ask for feedback 

At the end of every section of the interview, ask for confirmation on understanding and feedback on what the next steps will be if you’re successful. Suitable questions include - 
• Do you think my background is suitable for the role? 
• Is there anything I can clarify? 
• How do I compare to other candidates you’ve spoken to? 
• What is the next step? 
• Who makes the final hiring decision?