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8 Ways To Make An Impact On Your First Interview

By Ally Tobias


There’s no question that it’s a buyer’s market out there. Close to 10% of the population is unemployed and who knows how many more under-employed. How can you stand out from the hundreds, sometimes thousands, other job seekers?

Here are 8 steps most job seekers miss to make you stand out against the competition.

1. Do Your Research
Always do your research and find out as much as you can about the company you’ll be interviewing with, the role you’re interviewing for and the interviewer.

As they say, “k
nowledge is power” and it’s never truer than in this case.

Research is important because it will allow you to laser target all your preparations to that particular employer. For example, most people have one resume that they send out to 100 employers. It’s generic – and therefore weak. Is it any wonder that they don’t hear a reply?

Savvy job seekers tailor their resume for one job and they incorporate their research into it. They include experience that works to their advantage but leave out those that do not. This is crucial because you want resumes to be short and sweet but also deliver everything you want to say.

2. Dress For The Role
What kind of company are you looking to work for? Your research should tell you that. Is it a start-up with 5 people who report to work with t-shirts and sandals? Or is it a bank where everyone wear no less than suits?

Despite what the older generation might tell you, wearing a suit is not always the best way to dress. Always dress for the job, not below or you’ll seem disrespectful nor above or you’ll seem snobby.

Plus, people like others who are like them. Dressing like them is one way you can show your potential employer that you’ll fit in.

 3. Provide Value First
Most job seekers go into interviews with a hand extended asking for a job for nothing in return. When the economy soars, that maybe just fine. But that kind of attitude is not enough today.

Savvy job seekers actively find out what the role is – and what kind of problems they are expected to solve. These job seekers then go home,work on some of these problems and generate a solution to them – before they are even hired!

When it comes to hiring someone, which would the employer hire, those who are proactive or those who are passive?

4. Ask Great Questions
At the end of every interview there’s bound to be a couple of minutes of Q&A session. This is where you can really stand out.

If you have ever been in the employer side of the table, you’d know that most interviewees ask pretty much the same questions. They get these questions from Googling “Questions to ask in an interview”. Not only are those questions boring, they also show that you’re not actively thinking about the job.

To really stand out, ask a question no one has ever asked. This is where your research comes in and no one can give you a list of “unique” questions.

5. Appear Confident
Studies have shown that confident people are better-liked and they get paid more. If you’re an introvert or just shy, the good news is it’s easy to appear as confident. All you have to do is find a partner and practice. The longer, the better.

Give a firm hand shake, look the person in eye and smile. Simple… but not easy. To be frank, you’ll probably fail a couple of times in this point. But remember, practice makes perfect and confidence is not the silver bullet.

6. Ask For Reference
Everyone likes to blow their own trumpets. Can you blame the interviewer to be skeptical of your glowing resume?

Most job seekers make the mistake of assuming employers would ask them for a reference if they want one. The reality is employers are often so skeptical, they don’t even bother to ask for a reference. They just assume some of the things you claim you did are not true.

This is why it’s crucial to actively give the details of your references at the end of an interview, even if they didn’t ask for it. And don’t use your family as references! You won’t believe how often this happens.

Instead, get one from someone famous in your industry – even if you have to freelance or work for free.

7. Zag When Everyone Zigs
Since most employers are, by default, skeptical of your accomplishments, this is why it’s crucial that you also include your weaknesses. A real weakness! Not, “I work too much.”

People who dare to admit their weaknesses are viewed as more credible. Whatever claims you make thereafter and more likely to be believed.

8. Prepare a Portfolio
A picture is worth a thousand words. If so, a portfolio is worth a million.

A portfolio is like a taste test – it allows your potential employer to take a look “under the hood” before committing to the purchase. This is also where your research comes in. Tailor your portfolio according to what the role is and the company you are interviewing with.

If you are interviewing for a job that does not usually require a portfolio, create case studies and use that as a portfolio. The case study should detail how you were involved in the project and how you helped achieve business goals.

Ally is part of the team that manages personal finance sites in Sydney, Australia, which feature personal finance topics such as how to save money fast. Before joining the team, she was a Media Planner in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.