How to stand out in an interview

Standing out at an interview image

After several hours of honing your CV and creating the perfect cover letter  you’ve had the call from a recruiter asking you to attend an interview.

But chances are you’re up against several other high calibre candidates. so how can you ensure you stand out in the interview?


Be clear on what you are interviewing for

It sounds obvious, but make sure you know about the role you are going for. You’re likely to have applied to a few positions, so be clear on the specifics of the one you’ll be interviewing for. You don’t want to  get muddled with one of the other jobs you’ve applied for.

Run through the job specification again to get completely familiar with the details of the role. This may include the salary, the sector you will be working in, the region you will be covering, the contract you’ll be on and day-to-day duties.

The interviewer is going to be asking you questions that directly relate to the job specification. Be clear on these to avoid being tripped up by anything they might ask.

Carry out company research for the interview

It is immediately obvious to an interviewer whether a candidate has done their research or not. You will always be asked ‘What do you know about our company?’.

If the best you can come up is vague answers like ‘they do maintenance’ or ‘Company X is a media design company’, it will make you look thoroughly unprepared and immediately send out the wrong signals.

Take time to look through a company’s website

If  the company is a large one, get a sense of the wider context and background of the business.

For instance, you might be going for a role in the facilities department, but it won’t hurt to also look at their construction elements.

Do spend time on the section of the business you are applying to and look at any recent news they might have posted.

Being aware of recent changes within the business, such as newly awarded contracts, will show you have taken things seriously and done your preparation. Your up to date knowledge will certainly impress the interviewer.

Also try to be aware of current trends and challenges within the industry you are going to be working in.

Know who will be interviewing you

When you receive an interview confirmation, generally you will be told who you are meeting with.

Man pleased with interview

If you are not told, make sure you find out who will be interviewing you and what their position is within the business.

Find a section on ‘our team’ on their website and look at their individual LinkedIn profile.

Do not worry about them being alerted that you have viewed their profile – if anything it will display your keenness to the interviewer.

However, it would also be wise to not connect with them, as that might come across as too forward and pushy, and not all managers will appreciate it.

Bring evidence of your qualifications

Remember to take all your qualifications and right to work documents, such as passport and driving license. Copies will usually be taken, so that an offer can processed as soon as possible, so it helps to be ahead of the game.

Arrive for the interview promptly and professionally

Make sure you know exactly where you are going and plan out the route. Try to arrive around ten to fifteen minutes early, so that you have just enough time to prepare, go to the toilet, read through your notes, or anything else you need to do.

Arriving in the nick of time or late is certainly not the best way to begin your  interview.

Also make sure you are dressed smartly.  Don’t think you can use a summer heatwave as an excuse to get away with wearing shorts or turning up in a t-shirt!

Wearing a suit or smart business wear, shows you are serious.

If for whatever reason you cannot dress as smartly as you’d like, and you are still in your work uniform (if you are an engineer or operative, for instance), pass the message onto the recruiter or HR manager in advance and all should be fine.

Stand out in the interview by being a confident interviewee

Remember to go in there and make a good first impression. Always bear in mind that they will have seen someone else, and you need to try to make an impression that you would be the best fit.

Recently a hiring manager said to me “you can put someone on further qualifications, but you can never teach them to have ‘that’ personality to be a great fit”, after we introduced a candidate to her.

He was offered the position as much for his character and personality, as his past work.

Also, never just dismiss any small talk at any stage pre or post interview. Some clients use this to judge a second opinion outside of the formal interview, to see what a person is really like.

Don’t be afraid to say why you think you’re the best person for the role

Make sure you get across why you believe you are the best person for the position. You will be asked questions about past experiences.

Make sure you get across relevant information, whether this be the value of contracts you’ve worked on, the size of the team you managed, or the types of environment you have worked in.

This generally works in conjunction with doing your research and appearing confident. Have several examples lined up that can directly relate to different scenarios in the position you are going for, so that the hiring manager leaves the room impressed that you could handle all aspects of this role.

Also, if you are a candidate without a great deal of ‘working experience’, you can still display why your value. This might include doing lots of research, finding a way to tailor experiences from university or using your personality and adapting this to the situation, so that you stand out to the interviewer.

Be honest

Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. If you are not sure about something, always ask the interviewer. They will appreciate it. If you claim you can do something, but when you start in the role it becomes obvious you have manipulated the truth, it can create an awkward relationship between you and your boss.

Stand out in the interview by preparing your own interview questions

An interview will always conclude with the interviewer asking if you have any questions. Have a couple lined up that show you are interested and serious about the position.

These might include “what makes your company different to the competitors?” or “how has this position emerged, and where might I be within 5 years of working here?”.

Additionally, if there are any past experiences that you think might give you and edge, that you have so far been unable to bring up, find a way to ask a question that can in turn allow you to bring it up.

For instance, if you have previously been commended for client relations, try to bring this up through a question about the company’s current clients.