In a competitive job market, it’s not unusual for hundreds of people to apply for a role. So those lucky enough to get a job interview know that making an impression and standing out from the other shortlisted candidates is essential.
But there are so many challenges: how do you make an impression without trying too hard? How do you balance being yourself with being professional? Do attention-grabbing gimmicks actually work?
Dr Justine Ferrer, Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Deakin University shares her job interview tips that will ensure you leave a lasting impression without having to resort to competitive tactics.
Dress the part
According to Dr Ferrer, it’s always a good idea to dress smart and make sure you’re well presented for the interview. But that doesn’t necessarily mean putting on a suit. The main thing to think about is being appropriately groomed for the industry.
‘If you were applying for a position in the fitness industry you could potentially take a neat casual and well-groomed approach. This is appropriate to the position. However, you would not go to the interview in your gym clothes,’ she points out.
By contrast, if you’re going for a finance role, you’ll want to dress sharp. Ultimately, Dr Ferrer says that if you’re well presented when you attend an interview, you can’t go wrong.
Do what’s right for you
It can be tempting to tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. But Dr Ferrer says: ‘it is highly important to be true to yourself and sell your brand as relevant to the position you are applying for. If this does not fit with the expectations of the interviewer then perhaps the job is not the right one for you.’
That’s why she doesn’t recommend gimmicks. Although many people have pulled stunts to get a prospective employer to take notice – like bringing the interviewer a coffee or getting a resume printed on a t-shirt – Dr Ferrer argues that what really matters is your ability to perform in the role and fit into the organisation.
Inevitably you’ll be asked about your weaknesses or parts of your working process that could be improved. Dr Ferrer believes it’s essential to be honest about these limitations because eventually you’ll be caught out if you’re not.
But telling the truth has its advantages. ‘In telling the truths about weaknesses, we show self-awareness and understanding of our own limitations, which is an important attribute for all graduates and a highly valued professional quality that employers looks for,’ she suggests.
When talking about the areas that you need to develop, Dr Ferrer says the best thing a candidate can do is show their willingness to strengthen these weak spots through training, mentoring and support. Employers will be impressed with your interest in taking on new challenges and attitude towards evolving in your career.
Demonstrate your curiosity
Towards the end of the interview, you might be asked if you have any questions about the company or the role. It’s important to have a couple prepared. ‘These are questions that have meaning and demonstrate that you understand the position the organisation and the industry,’ Dr Ferrer explains.
If you’re able to show that you have done your research and want to know more about what the role involves day-to-day or what the culture’s like, you highlight your interest in being a valued member of staff.
Leave on a good note
To wrap up a good interview, the best thing you can do is reinforce the reasons why you’re the best person for the job. You might be up against other candidates that have a similar skill set, so think about what you can personally bring to the role that others can’t. ‘The candidate needs to be able to sell their unique brand, they need to be able to identity that one attribute that makes them stand out above the rest,’ Dr Ferrer says.
Maybe you teach yoga in your spare time and can offer to teach classes at the office. Or maybe your organisational skills enable you to help arrange staff events on top of your primary responsibilities. Make sure the hiring manager knows about these added benefits of hiring you before your final handshake.
Originally published on this.