You only have a short amount of time to impress at an interview – so how do you ensure that a hiring manager remembers you? Follow our expert interview tips and make sure your name stands out for all the right reasons.
1. Those opening moments
Psychologists tell us that we make snap judgements whenever we meet someone new, based on minimal amounts of information.
‘Interviewers don’t make a complete hiring decision, but they do form strong assumptions based on how easy you are to talk to,’ says John Lees, career coach and author of The Interview Expert.
‘Do you readily respond to questions and volunteer information? As part of your interview preparation, practice small talk and opening conversations in a relaxed manner.’
2. Show and tell
Showing an example of what you’ve achieved in the past is a good way to be remembered, especially if it’s something you can leave behind with the interviewer.
‘This doesn’t mean you should bring along your year-six science project and obviously depends on the role, but being able to show an interviewer what you’ve achieved, rather than just describe it, can make your application a memorable one,’ says Michael Bennett, managing director of Rethink Group.
‘Even if it’s just a printed colour screenshot of a website that you’ve helped to develop or an article that you’ve provided content for, having a physical copy can make all the difference.’
3. Manage your messages
Studies show that people tend to remember only two or three soundbites when listening to a speech. What do you want the interviewer to remember about you?
‘Decide in advance what three or four key messages you want to get across during the interview. Most should be strictly related to job content, but the rest could be about what makes you distinctive as a candidate. Make sure you get these points across before you leave the room,’ advises John.
4. Sound like you’re revealing all
Interviewers know their job is to get you to disclose important information. To reinforce a sense of positive feedback, say “that’s a great question” before giving your answer.
John says: ‘When you’re talking about past experiences make it sound as if the interviewer has spotted something interesting and surprising, even though your answers should in fact be carefully rehearsed mini-narratives.’
5. Be a good cultural fit
Employers need to be convinced that you can do the job – but they’re also looking for someone who will complement the current team and enjoy working at the company.
‘Nowadays, companies look for professional competence and cultural fit,’ says career coach Ruth Winden of Careers Enhanced.
‘Your answers should show that you “get” the company and share their ethos, values and culture. Say why the company appeals to you and show the common values behind some of your achievements. It is intangibles like your cultural fit that make you memorable as a candidate.’
6. Put a number on it
Why say that you improved sales or cut costs in your previous position, when you could put a number on your achievements? Overloading the interviewer with facts and figures will work against you, but one or two key percentages are likely to stick in the interviewer’s mind.
If there’s a lot of valid information to get across, and the figures are relevant to the role, you could always create a colourful infographic and leave a print out behind.
7. Leave a trail of energy
Don’t just give facts and figures to demonstrate your achievements. Use them to tell a story.
‘People remember stories far longer than they remember facts, and energised stories even longer,’ says John. ‘At every opportunity communicate enthusiasm, curiosity, and engagement – it presents a picture of a motivated, committed person which will stay in mind for a long time after you leave the room.’
8. Ask stimulating questions
Make sure you have some great questions of your own at the end – this, along with the opening moments, is what will be remembered longest.
‘Don’t test the interviewer’s patience by asking obvious questions about the organisation, and don’t irritate by asking about salary or benefits,’ warns John. ‘Instead, ask a couple of good questions about expectations, how the role may change, and what learning opportunities you might be given.’
Michael agrees, adding: ‘It may sound obvious but far too few people come equipped with appropriate, stimulating questions. Being the candidate who asks an informed question will get you remembered.’
9. The follow up
Michael recommends following up the interview with an email or phone call.
‘This can be a useful opportunity to ask questions you didn’t think of in the interview and shows your interest in the company is genuine. It also allows the interviewer the chance to raise any concerns they may have over your application.’
To really stand out from the crowd, consider sending a handwritten card or note.
‘A note on quality paper, or even a personalised card, differentiates you from other candidates. An email can get overlooked, whereas a handwritten envelope on someone’s desk will get attention,’ says Ruth.
‘It might feel slightly cheesy, but it works and people do remember. Who remembers an email?’
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