Stand Out in a Job Interview

A recent article in the New York Times called “I Asserted Myself and Got the Job” by Marat Gasiev and Patricia R. Olsen demonstrates one of the most important truths about job hunting: you need to stand out from your peers, and the best way to do this is by bringing specific insights and innovations to the interview. Ask yourself: if you were filling positions at a company, who would you be more impressed by: a candidate that answers questions simply and generally, or someone that can demonstrate experience and forethought about your industry?

HR representatives are always on the lookout for people that can bring new innovations to their field. That’s the major draw of hiring outsiders. Before you even apply to a specific job, research the company’s background and brainstorm what new ideas you can bring. As Gasiev reports doing, tailor your résumé and cover letter to each application, rather than relying on a boilerplate to suffice. The more specific, the better.

I have found that applicants who report unique ways of handling a specific job are much more interesting than someone who speaks in vague generalities. Once you have the opportunity to separate yourself from other applicants, demonstrate your familiarity and research by bringing up the innovations you would make. Be careful: you don’t want to sound arrogant, but the more specific and realistic your suggestions, the more you will stand out.

Key approaches to the job search:
1. Research the company behind every job posting before applying.
2. Customize your résumé and cover letter to fit every application you send out.
3. Brainstorm a short list of innovations relevant to your area of expertise that you could suggest the company institute at interviews.
4. At your interview, make a few key suggestions based on your research without seeming smug or arrogant.
5. As you work your way up the interview chain, demonstrate your foreknowledge early so that your interviewees recognize your familiarity with the industry.

Don’t strive for the middle of the pack. Sometimes hundreds of job-seekers apply for one opening; you need to distinguish yourself. The best way to do this is by demonstrating your competency, humility, and creativity.

Do you have any other suggestions? Please send your thoughts.


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