How to Stand Out in a Job Interview


In a highly competitive job market, scoring an interview with a hiring company can be an accomplishment in itself. Nice work!

Now that you’ve secured the job interview, it’s time to prepare. In order to make your mark, you need to make yourself memorable—and for the right reasons. Being able to emphasize and communicate your best and most relevant skills is essential to winning the job you want.

As a national sales and technical recruiter, I interview candidates all the time. It’s my experience that—while they all have good intentions—many job seekers have a difficulty talking about themselves in a clear and concise manner.

My advice? Consider the following tips:

Do your homework: Take time to research the company.

Visit the corporate website—review their mission, look at their annual report, read up on any news or announcements. You may also want to look up the hiring manager, as well as any other employees you anticipate being part of the interview process.

It’s also important to carefully review the job description and use it to your advantage. Being able to explain your skills and experience in terms of how it relates to the job requirements is the “secret sauce” for making your interview a success.

Think about the following questions:

                What interests you most about this position?

                What talents and skills can you bring to this role?

                Why should the company want to hire you versus another candidate?

                Have you performed these activities in the past? How did you do it?

                What key points do you want to emphasize? How do they relate to the job?

Demonstrate your value: Companies want to hire people that can make an immediate and fast contribution to their organization.

It’s up to you to convey that you’ve got what it takes—whether it’s working as a technologist, sales professional, accountant, or in any other functional role or management capacity—to confidently excel in the role.

You also need to be able to demonstrate that you would fit well within the culture of the organization. Like it or not, building rapport and showing that you are likeable are just as important. The people who interview you will be trying to imagine if you are someone they want to work with and be part of their team.

Show interest and enthusiasm: Hiring organizations want to know you are genuinely enthusiastic and excited about the position and the prospect of joining their company.

Positive energy is contagious and can have a big impact on your coworkers, managers, and clients.

“When hiring for technical roles, we want to see strong hands-on experience with the respective technologies, but customer service skills are just as important,” said Mark Lafond, President and CEO of InSource, an IT professional services company in Wayne, Pa. “We like high energy people and those who are passionate about the technology versus someone who is simply looking to take a job.”

“Polish your shoes”: You’ve heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When it comes to a job interview, nothing rings truer.

Dress professionally and be mindful of how you interact with others. First impressions happen within seven seconds of meeting a person and can have a powerful effect on whether or not you secure the job.

“Finding great sales people is not easy. When you find one, hire them! Good sales people will always pay for themselves,” said David Silverstein, Vice President of Business Development and Partner of InSource. “When hiring anyone, I always imagine them representing me in a client situation. I look for great business acumen, excellent listening skills, and someone I could trust to date my daughter. And always check their shoes—if they are not polished, take a pass."

Ask questions. Be sure to prepare a few good questions of your own. Want to know what the corporate culture is like? Are you curious about opportunities to advance? Ask away! Your questions communicate to your interviewer what’s most important to you. They can also position you as a solid candidate for the role and set you apart from the competition.

Follow through: If you feel the interview has gone well and you want to continue pursuing the opportunity, let the interviewer know. Tell him or her that you’ve enjoyed the interview; you believe you can thrive in the role, and you are interested in exploring the next step.

Shelly B. Goldman is a national executive sales and technical recruiter, and international career coach.

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