Most job seekers do not prepare adequately for job interviews because they don’t know how. (But they think they do.)

Here are 5 simple things you can do to separate yourself in an interview:

1. Nail the impression. People notice two things about you right away: your competence and warmth. Also, if you want them to treat you like a peer, act like one. If you come across too nervous, fumble, or fidget, or behave as if you’re below them, then that’s the way they’ll think of you. Remember, poise!

Also, keep in mind that warmth. Most employers ask themselves two questions: 1) Can this person do the job (and better than someone else) and, 2) Will I like working with them? People root for people they like, so be likable!

2. Offer Value Proposition. Answer this question: Why are you the better choice for this role over someone else? What most candidates do is only list their duties in the resume (not why they did anything better), and then regurgitate that same stuff in the interview. NO! The resume is a marketing piece designed to explain not just your duties, but why you did them better than 832 other people. THEN, during the interview, you drive home the WHY you’re the best candidate and forge that relationship.

To be ready, you’re going to have to prepare, know the company, know the role, and know who you’re talking to. How will you add to the company? What value do you bring? Prepare at least two concrete (but different) examples about what you actually did in your past to demonstrate what the job description asks for. Explain the situation, what, specifically YOU did, and what was the result.

3. Be Real. If you’re at the interview stage, you’re (potentially) qualified on paper. Now they want to see you articulate that in person. Employers are like sharks; they can sense the slightest amount of blood. Meaning, they can sense if you’re full of it. So if you’re giving canned fluff language with no specific examples, you’re not going to come across well.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare
  • Project confidence
  • Don’t be robotic
  • No fluff

4. Have Questions Ready. Sometimes people ask stupid questions because they really don’t have any but feel pressure to ask. It’s okay if you don’t have questions. It’s a little concerning if you don’t have a single question after a first round interview, but have four rounds, you may just be out. Sure, there are questions you can ask, but perhaps none that are relevant at that stage, before you actually get the job. As a best practice, just come up with two. Perhaps: If selected, what are the expectations in the first 90 days? How could you prepare for success during that time? Ask about the interviewer’s journey and experience. People love chatting about themselves. Ask them something that indicates you are a forward thinking that is already planning on nailing the role in the first 90 days and beyond.

5. Follow Up. Most people interview and then wait. As a best practice, try to follow up if you can with a thank-you note. A hand-written note is golden. If you can’t know their contact info, is it in the invite? Are they on LinkedIn? Does the recruiter know? Do the best you can.