How Not to Be a Boring Applicant – At the Interview

Most people are aware of the competition within the current job market. Something I hear a lot when I’m speaking with employers about what they look for in potential candidates, is that they’re bored of hearing the same phrases and meeting candidates who fall into the same pitfalls on their CVs and at interview.

There are some simple suggestions I make to clients about how to stand out and make an employer take notice.


At the interview:

1. Be Prepared

I’ve said this in nearly every article I’ve written about interviews – preparation is key and it will become apparent very quickly if you haven’t done your research!

One of the employers I work with had an honest conversation about their recruitment process, saying that when they ask potential candidates what they know about the company, they all repeat the same briefing that’s on their ‘About Us’ company page. It bored them to tears!

Make sure you delve a bit deeper – if it’s a national company, find out if they’ve won any recent business awards, if they’ve secured any new contracts – are they looking to develop the company overseas? If you’re applying locally – check out local newspapers for any coverage and information, if they’re involved in any local charity and community work. All of this will make you stand out and will also give you the opportunity to ask the employer questions, which in turn makes you look like an interesting, and interested, candidate.

See also: How to Prepare for an Entry Level Interview

2. Don’t tell them why you want the job, tell them why they want you

‘Why do you want to work for us’ can be a really tricky question and I always advise clients to turn it around and think about it differently. Trying to explain your reasons for applying can be difficult and I often see clients panic and give the wrong answer (you are not applying ‘because it will pay the bills’ or ‘because it’s only 10minutes walk from home’ – genuine answers I’ve had clients give!).
Think back to the reasons for applying for the role – what attracted you to apply for it, what part of the job description stood out and where do you think your strengths and skills will make you a success in the role – these are things you need to think about and talk enthusiastically about when answering this type of question.

3. Do Have a Personality

Something else I’ve talked a lot about and something that every single employer I discuss recruitment with states as a must when meeting with new recruits. I’m lucky in the work that I do in that I get to build relationships with employers and clients and this enables me to be able match clients to roles where I know their personality will fit with the company.

When friends ask me where they’re going wrong, I always point this out to them. Demonstrating a personality is really important at interview. There seems to be a general consensus that you have to be a robot, deliver text book answers and generally be quite rigid.

This isn’t the case at all – think about when you meet someone socially, if they’re a bore, would you
want to see them again? Employers are the same, they want someone they know is going to fit well with their team, sell their business and get along with their customer/client base. If they like you, they know you’ll do well for their company.

4. Sell Yourself

Because no one else is going to! Be positive, enthusiastic and passionate about your skills and experience.

See also: How to Make a Good First Impression at a Job Interview

When I conduct Mock Interviews, even with clients who’ve had years of experience, I notice a tendency for them to undersell themselves. When they do this, it makes me doubt the experience they’ve listed on their CV and there’s a noticeable disparity between what they say they’ve done and how they articulate their skills.

Even if something was challenging remember to talk about what you found challenging and what the outcome was. If an idea you had didn’t work out the way you wanted it to, talk about what went wrong and how you adapted.

5. Take an Interest

This ties back into your preparation and finding out more about the company that other candidates may not bring to the interview. Make sure you have questions prepared and I’ve always suggested to clients to poise questions to the employer throughout your interview and not save them up for the end.

Picking up on different bits of information the employer gives you throughout their questioning process and using this to ask your questions as you go along will give the employer a nice change of pace during your interview and make them take notice in you as a serious candidate.

Photo by: Alex

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