Finding a new job is a little like a talent competition. Luckily, there are thousands of resources online to help job seekers answer the questions most businesses are likely to ask.
The problem arises when these canned responses get parroted by hundreds of potential employees. Eventually, an HR manager will tire of hearing the same main points repeated by the hundredth employee they are interviewing for the post.
What does a job seeker have to do to make sure that they stand out as unique while still hitting all the relevant points in the interview? To answer this question, we asked 10 contributors to Forbes Human Resources Council what job seekers ought to do to be unique in their interviews so that they stand out as memorable to the HR personnel who will conduct the assessment.
1. Be Authentic In Your Answers
I would tell job seekers to be authentic in your answers by giving real world examples that they have personally been involved in. Your involvement could have been that you were an observer, as well. You can practice for interview questions by reviewing past performance reviews, writing a list of your top accomplishments and/or sharing your professional development plans with the recruiter. – RaQuel Hopkins, DHI Telecom Group
2. Prepare To Interview The Interviewer
Oftentimes, when interviewing, candidates focus so much on whether they did good in the interview and if they will get the job. How about you prepare questions, so you can interview the interviewer? Do you really fit their culture and want to work there? By evaluating if they are a great fit to be your next employer, you will remember your worth and kick the script goodbye! – Tish McFadden, DoubleTree McLean Tysons & B. F. Saul Company Hospitality Group
3. Walk The Talk
There are no magic words. Candidates seeking to distinguish themselves should only take interviews for jobs that genuinely intrigue them. As an interviewer, it’s easy to spot people who are just going through the motions. I notice those who’ve researched the company online, sought out current or recent employees for insights, and prepared questions that demonstrate their interest and insight. – Joyce Maroney, Kronos IncorporatedForbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?
4. Be Honest
Any sophisticated interviewer can sense when a job seeker gives a canned response. The key is to deliver the answer clearly and honestly. Describe the situation clearly. Outline the tasks and the actions that you were responsible for individually. Quantify the results even if they were not what was expected or the goal you were trying to achieve. In either case — what were the lessons learned? – Stephen Lowisz, Qualigence International/Lowisz Consulting
5. Take Care Of Your Energy
What is contagious is the person’s energy and vibrancy in an interview. Are they passionate? Do they have a glow in their eyes when talking about something that they love? Do they have work ethic that I cannot teach? Do they have humility which shows character? Do I, as an interviewer, feel that I can learn from them? Will this person not only integrate in my culture, but be a positive influence as well? – Tasniem Titus, Dentsply Sirona
6. Don’t Over-Prepare
Don’t rehearse your entire interview. Share your background and a few bullet points of your accomplishments as a part of your opening statement. Then listen intently to the question that is being asked. Give specific and succinct responses about how you’d be an asset to the organization. Being more conversational instead of trying to remember a script will also help you stay calm. – Regina Romeo, CPS HR Consulting
7. Research And Connect The Dots
Research the company and get a good understanding of how they operate and the position you’re applying for so you can take advantage of every opportunity to answer their interview questions by connecting your past experience to the position you’re applying for. Connect the dots for them — yes, they can read your skills and accomplishments on your resume, but anyone can write a stellar resume. – Courtney Mudd, Influence & Co.
8. Use The STAR Method
Interviewers want to gauge how prepared candidates are, and how their responses frame their skills and past experience. A good way candidates can do this is to use the STAR method whenever possible, citing a specific Situation, Task, Action and Result from their past. This ensures a unique response and provides the interviewer with real-life examples of the candidate’s ability to deliver results. – John Feldmann, Insperity
9. Turn Off Your Inner Judgment
Turn off your inner judgment and be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that you don’t have to perform, but just focus on being. You can do no wrong. Then you can relax, and that calmness radiates. – Anne Iversen, TimeXtender
10. Build A Connection To Help The Conversation Flow
Listen to the questions, think on your feet and connect an answer to the interviewer, the company, previous interview topics or even something you read that day. This will help the interview flow like a conversation, build a connection with the interviewer and show your critical and creative thinking skills. Getting to know one another as people also sets the foundation for long-term success. – Vivian Maza, Ultimate Software