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How To Stand Out During the Job Interview

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Preparing For The Job Interview

Congratulations! You have been invited for the interview. Now what do you do?

The first step is beginning to research the company. Once you have done this you will be ready to prep for the interview questions, learn how to improve your interviewing skills and begin to think about what you’re going to wear to the interview.

In order to succeed in the interview you need to do your homework on the company. There is no set of rules to how to do your research but preparing yourself as much as possible will greatly enhance your chances of getting hired.

Make sure you use every available resource to help you with your preparation. By doing a basic Google on the company you can easily learn important facts about the company. Publically listed companies are easier to prepare your background research than privately listed companies as public companies are legally required to make certain information available. In the 21st century the Internet has made a lot of the pre interview research more available and easier to find. Don’t forget that you can also use other sources of information like public libraries or bookstores. Many magazines and journals can provide important and up to date information on your company and also provide you with information that your competitors who are also applying for the same job won’t know.

A true story…

A candidate of mine was applying for a job at one of the large investment banks. Out of 150 candidates the hiring manager had selected the top 10 best resumes to perform first round interviews. Every interview was 15-20 minutes long. The final question the hiring manager asked to each of the candidates was “Tell me something about the company.” Nine out of ten of the candidates rattled off information they had read from the company’s “about us page”, but one candidate stood out. After reading about the company’s strategic purchase of a new acquisition, the candidate was able to impress the hiring manager with his (somewhat different) knowledge.

The hiring manager later offered this candidate the role not because he was the smartest candidate, but because he showed his dedication by going the extra step in his interview preparation.

Your research for the job interview preparation should give you a better insight on:

  • The history of the business
  • How old the business is
  • The types of services the business offers
  • The hierarchy structure
  • How many offices/locations the business has
  • Number of employees
  • Career progression
  • The business culture
  • Competitors
  • Benefits

Check out the Competitors websites as well – they are also a good source of information for your job preparation.

Making the right impression in your job interview is one of the most important steps in your future career. Many people don’t know this, but job interviews require careful planning and research, otherwise you will significantly reduce the chance of getting the job. In the current economic climate it is very hard to land yourself a job, thus planning your interview before is the key to success

The first (and often the most important) thing to prepare for is your attire. Don’t wait until the last minute to find something to wear – you should prepare for it days in advance and get it properly cleaned and ironed. Remember that you should always dress to fit the context of a job. If you’re applying for a casual gardening company, a suit might not be ideal, but if you’re applying for a position as an accountant or a banker, then a full suit would be the required minimum. Despite what people say, first impressions are everything.

Conducting research about the job and company you’re applying for is imperative. Consider doing a web search and learn as many facts about the company as you can. You can subtlety include these facts during the interview (when appropriate) to show the interviewer that you have done your homework on the company. Don’t overdo it though – you don’t want to sound like you’re repeating their whole website!

Non-verbal messages are often more important than words, so make sure that you greet your interviewer with a firm handshake. Maintaining correct posture and eye contact are also two very important non-verbal messages as they make you appear more confident and presentable. These are two big qualities that hiring managers will be looking for.

You should also be able to recite your resume off by heart. As a general rule, you should not need to consult your resume. The interviewer will already have a copy of your resume, and they will ask you questions about it, so don’t try to make up an answer as there is a big chance that you will get it wrong. Highlight your achievements and the value added skills you can bring to the job and back up your statements with examples.

As preparation is the key to a successful job interview, consider doing a short role-play with a friend or family member. Ask them to question you on your chronological resume and the job history to fully prepare you for the interview. The more you are prepared the greater your chances of success. Following the interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask when they expect to make a final decision and don’t feel discouraged to follow up with them if you haven’t heard back within a few days.

3 Tricky Job Interview Questions

1) If you had to describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?

You’ve been asked during the interview to describe yourself, tell about your greatest accomplishments, and lots more about your personality and work achievements. But here is another question you may be asked about yourself; to use the best word to describe yourself. This question can be modified in different ways, such as the top three words to describe you, etc. It’s difficult to describe yourself in only one word, so your answer will tell the interviewer a lot about you. Choose the word to describe you wisely, and make sure it positively impacts your job interview. For example, if you’re known to all your friends as the goofy one, you may not want to choose the word ‘goofy’ if you’re applying for a serious position that requires professionalism and attention to detail.


  1. Ask your friends before you interview for words they would choose to describe you. It’s sometimes easier to start by asking others about how they see us.
  2. There are many words you can use and it’s difficult to choose only one with so many different aspects of your personality. Try to choose one that fits for your professional life as well.
  3. Choose the best word that describes you along with your ability to perform the job well.
  4. Some words you could use to describe yourself include: dynamic, loyal, trustworthy, positive, kind-hearted, creative, innovative, successful, bright, persistent, enthusiastic, organized, responsible, strategic, and determined.

Example: “If I could choose only one word to describe myself, I would choose ‘determined.’ No matter what I do, whether in my professional or personal life, when I put my mind to something, I won’t stop until I’ve accomplished it no matter how many obstacles I face.”

2) What color is your brain?

Hiring managers sometimes ask off-beat questions like this one to try to get to know the job candidate in a different way. Typically, candidates can predict some of the general interview questions, so hiring managers don’t get to know the candidate’s personality that well. Questions like this one can help test the creativity and uniqueness of the candidate. It can help show what makes you tick and how well you think on your feet. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. As long as you choose a color, and have a relevant reason for choosing it, hiring managers will be pleased by your answer. Just don’t give a color and say, “I think that’s the color of it.”


  1. Think about colors in association with the moods and qualities they are generally associated with. For example, blue can bring about feelings of sadness, coolness or serenity; red can be aggressive, passionate, or fiery. Choose a color that positively matches your personality in relation to the job you’re applying for.
  2. Don’t be thrown off by questions that seem random or completely irrelevant for a job. Always think about the question in relation to the job you want and answer to the best of your ability.

Example: “I imagine my brain would be purple because it’s a very bold and confident color, and I believe it matches my personality and outlook in the workplace.”

  1. What would you do if you knew your boss was wrong about something?

This is another situational interview question. By asking this question, hiring managers can learn how you approach uncomfortable situations, what your thought process is and how you approach solving problems. Obviously, it’s a little uncomfortable when your boss wants you to do something a certain way when you know that they’re definitely wrong about what they’re saying. Hiring managers want to know if you shy away from problems or confrontation; can you openly communicate with your superiors for the good of the company; can you avoid a negative situation when you disagree about something?


  1. Your answer should stress positive, open communication; problem solving skills; tact, and thoughtfulness.
  2. Every person is different; therefore your approach to your boss in this question should be catered to their unique personality.
  3. Don’t say, “I’d tell my boss how it is and if I couldn’t convince him, I would get other people to prove to him that he’s wrong!

Example: “It depends on the personality of my boss and the relationship we had together. Generally, I would try to openly communicate to my boss about the opinion I have, along with some evidence I have that this approach may produce better results. I would try to do it in an open and non-accusatory way so that my boss would not feel undermined or get his pride hurt, but so that we could produce the best possible outcome for the company.”

Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Job Interview Questions

Open-Ended Job Interview Questions:

The one thing to keep in mind with an open-ended question is that you need to give the interviewer more than a yes or no answer. If you do the research beforehand, you will be in a position to adequately open-ended question.

Closed-Ended Job Interview Questions:

There are times when an interviewer will need to know a specific piece of information and only require a brief response. My tip is to always answer the question directly in a brief, but complete sentence – never just in a one word answer.


Q: Have you finished your bachelor degree?

A: Yes I did – I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance, from the University of XYZ.

Q: How many years of experience do you have as a truck driver?

A: This is my 6th year as a qualified truck driver with company XYZ.

Q: Are you proficient in using Microsoft Excel?

A: I am an advanced Microsoft Excel user and am also proficient in all Microsoft programs including Word and PowerPoint.

Following up after the Job Interview

The final stage of nailing the interview is the follow up. After doing all the hard work of preparing for the interview, dressing correctly and being able to answer all the questions which the interviewer asks, the final stage is to follow up from the interview.

Find below a list of the best follow up tactics to use to continue to show your enthusiasm for the role.

Follow up with a letter or email thanking the interviewer for their time and re-expressing your desire for the role and because of your skills and experience you are the right person for the role. A thank you letter not only reiterates your desire, but continues the rapport you already built during the interview.

Rules to follow:

When writing a thank you letter always remember to correctly use their right title and spell their name correctly. Nothing is worse than receiving an email with the persons name spelt incorrectly.

Send your thank you email that evening. You want the interviewer to receive the email in the morning so that they continue to remember who you are and you stay in the forefront of their mind.

Don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call 3-5 days after the interview. Ideally it is best to ask the interviewer in the interview when they expect to make a decision, but a follow up call is great way to further reiterate your desire for the job.

Do not burn any bridges. You may have felt the interview did not go well or that the role was not for you. That’s ok. Continue your professionalism until the very end. You just never know what else can potentially come from that interview. I have seen cases where the interviewer was impressed with a candidate and although they did not have the right skills for that particular job they created a new position for that candidate.

The big misconception from candidates is that the interviewer does not want to be disturbed with follow up. THIS IS WRONG. Many hiring managers will observe the candidates who do follow up. Stand out from other potential candidates by making sure you follow through to the end.


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