When applying for your dream job, it's important to remember that the hiring process can be quite competitive. Because the hiring manager will review your resume and interview you alongside other strong candidates, the best way to approach this experience is taking actionable steps to stand apart in the job search. Though these tips might seem straightforward, it's always a good idea for candidates to keep in mind the competitive nature of the job market. The goal is convincing your potential employer that you're not only a good fit but also the best fit for the new job.
Many employers will give you an opportunity to discuss your unique qualities in terms of skill. They may ask interview questions like "What can you bring to this job position that others can't?" or "What are some unique skills you possess that others might not?" As a Veteran, the skillset you've acquired with a military background may help answer these.
That said, potential employers will favor job seekers who can demonstrate their interest in a new role beyond their resume and relevant skills. There are several ways you can go the extra mile to stand apart from other great candidates. Below, we offer some tips for making a memorable impression before, during and after an in-person interview that can convince the hiring manager why you're the perfect person for the job.
Before the Interview
Before an interview, researching your company can go a long way in setting you apart as the perfect candidate. It helps you tailor your interview answers to the company's values and, in doing so, demonstrates that you've taken the time to learn why you fit this position beyond the job description. Some specific research examples include visiting the company website and social media presence, reading up on their recent news (such as new launches or partnerships), researching their competitors and consulting online reviews on employee websites like GlassDoor.
A related form of research is networking and connecting with current and former employees through platforms like LinkedIn to gain a unique perspective of the company from the inside. Networking is also a great way to increase your chances of standing out to a future employer by sharing your name and interest with potential key people in the hiring process.
During the Interview
During the interview, there is no better way to leave a positive impression on potential employers than by displaying enthusiasm. Don't just tell but show that you're the best person for a position by demonstrating genuine interest in the company and the role. Some of the best tips for demonstrating enthusiasm include sharing your relevant passions or expressing how the company culture aligns with your own career goals. Another way to show your interest is by asking informed questions. See our blog for more guidance on how to prepare thoughtful questions in an interview.
Good Eye Contact
Making good eye contact during a job interview is an important aspect of non-verbal communication that conveys confidence, engagement and interest to a new employer. As much as you can, maintain eye contact during conversation to give the hiring manager your full attention when answering questions. Be sure to minimize distractions, such as looking at the interviewer's mouth or gazing around the room. The same applies for a virtual job interview. Check out our tips on preparing for a virtual job interview to learn more about making a good impression online.
Job candidates should note other key aspects of body language, such as a proper handshake, that will leave a lasting impression on a hiring manager. A good handshake can set the tone for a positive interview and help demonstrate your confidence, professionalism and interest in the opportunity. You should both greet and thank the interviewer with a firm handshake and make eye contact while introducing yourself and thanking the interviewer at the end of the interview.
Here are some practical tips for giving a professional, firm handshake:
- Make it firm but not too strong. A firm handshake conveys confidence, but a handshake that is too strong can come across as aggressive.
- Match the grip: If the interviewer has a loose grip, don't tighten it. If they have a firm grip, respond in the same manner.
- Use your whole hand: Wrap your hand around the interviewer's hand to show a genuine connection.
- Keep it brief: A handshake should last only a few seconds, no longer than 4-5 seconds.
- Practice: Practicing with friends or family members can help you become comfortable with the handshake and make it natural during an interview.
After the Interview
Follow Up Professionally
To stand out as an interested, qualified candidate, you should follow up professionally by sending a thank you note or email to the potential employer after the interview process, reiterating your interest in the position and expressing gratitude for the opportunity. If you interviewed with several team members, you should send a polite thank you note tailored to your conversations with each individual. A brilliant way to stand out is to mention something specific to that interview so the note is personalized (rather than a copy/paste of just "thank you"). For more guidance on how to send post-interview thank you notes, you can check out our blog.
We wish you luck with your interview process and hope these tips help you stand out to potential employers and land the job!