Knowing what you need to do to set yourself apart from other candidates during job interviews can be tough. Often, it’s not enough to demonstrate your passion about the opportunity since everyone else will be doing the same thing.
There are other ways to ensure you’re highlighting yourself as the top choice for the job at hand beyond the obvious, though. Here are some of our top tips that will help you ace those interview questions.
deliver a great elevator pitch
When you want to make a positive initial impression on a hiring manager, you’ll need to put together a strong elevator pitch that concisely highlights your background, skills, training and development, and where you want to go in the future. You’ll get the chance to use it as one of the interview questions inevitably will be “tell me something about yourself”.
According to career coach Nancy Collamer, writing for Forbes, an elevator pitch “should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for in a job?”. Once you’ve used this formula to establish the start of your answer, you should then focus on what you can offer a new employer - your USP. Tell them how your skills and experience will help the organization achieve its goals, and the more specific you can be, the better.
Think about why you’re looking for a new job and use that to inform your pitch. Are you seeking more responsibilities or do you want to make the world a better place, for example? Make sure the interviewer knows why their organization is where you can see yourself thriving and adding significant value.
infuse testimonials into your job interview answers
What’s one of the most valuable ways to lend credibility to what you’re saying? Highlighting what someone else said about you. This is why you should include a testimonial from a manager or senior colleague when answering interview questions in order to back up what you’re saying about your abilities or experience.
This can take the form of praise you received after delivering a project ahead of schedule or a particularly positive comment that was said to you during an appraisal. Telling an interviewer that your boss has complimented you numerous times on your project management abilities when discussing your greatest strengths will reinforce your claims.
Buyers want to know that they’re making the right choice when making a purchase, which is why they seek out product reviews. Think of including testimonials in your answers as a way of providing reviews of your abilities to interviewers, letting them make an informed decision about you.
use your speech to highlight yourself as top talent
You should be speaking in a certain way. LinkedIn has discovered that high performers use certain terms when discussing themselves and their achievements. So being aware of this could help boost your standing in the eyes of an interviewer.
LinkedIn has found that answers from high performers contain around 60 percent more first person pronouns (I, me, we) than those given by low performers. Meanwhile, low performers give answers that contain roughly 400 percent more second person pronouns (you, your) and about 90 percent more third person pronouns (he, she, they).
High performers also use the past tense more often, typically recounting examples they’re drawing on to impress the interviewer. Low performers tend to speak more in the present and future tense. For example, a low performer might discuss what they would do in a potential situation, rather than explaining what they have done in the past. Make sure not to speak in hypotheticals - provide the hiring manager with concrete information on how you have handled certain situations in the past.
make the interview a conversation
When you’re sitting in front of someone who has a huge impact on your future, it’s easy to let nerves get hold of you and affect your behavior. However, it’s important that you try to make a connection with your interviewer as this could be the reason you’re chosen for the job over other candidates.
One of the most straightforward ways of doing so is turning the interview into a conversation. According to talk show host and author Tavis Smiley, writing for the University of Phoenix, you can do this by asking questions early in the process. Instead of just waiting for the end of the interview to ask anything you’re curious about, which could result in a stilted interaction, respond to what the interviewer says with your own questions.
He encourages job seekers to let the hiring manager set the tone and priorities, but to “follow up with a comment or question that digs deeper into the issue”. He advises looking for “information in the interviewer’s answer to prompt your next question”. In doing so, you can steer the discussion to topics that highlight “your shared values and reinforce your strengths”. He also suggests asking open-ended interview questions to keep the conversation flowing.
Following these tips should help polish your presentation skills, make you head into your interview in the right frame of mind and clarify what you need to do to really impress the hiring manager. It’s then down to you to draw on your abilities and experience to demonstrate that you’re exactly the person they need for the job.