Over the last 14 years as an entrepreneur in software testing, I’ve had the privilege to interview hundreds of candidates for positions and coach our people for customer interviews too.
In most cases, interviews tend to follow a generic pattern that you’re quite likely accustomed to by now. However, with a high profile job interview coming up, it’s essential to practice some effective, job-winning strategies that can help you outshine the competition.
And what I mean by a high profile job could mean any or all of the following:
- A job that would put you in a position more senior to any position you’ve filled before,
- A job that pays a high salary or
- A job with an organization that’s established, esteemed, and highly sought after by potential employees.
Even though the interviews themselves might seem generic, you have all that it takes to stand out from the rest and make it non-generic for the interviewer. Use these five tactics to stand out from the masses.
1. Study the company. Most people preparing for a job interview do surprisingly little research on the people and operations of the company they want. When it comes to a high profile job and interview, you will do well to research much further than most:
- Know the numbers: Do you know the revenue and profit margins of the company you aim at working for? Researching the numbers is not hard, but it will be crucial if you want to show that you’re truly interested in giving back to the organization. Do your homework about the company you are about to enter.
- Know the people: Let’s face the truth. Connections matter. It makes things so much easier if you know a littlebit about each other beforehand. Do you have common friends? Have you engaged on social media in an uplifting note before? Could you? Do your homework about the people you are about to meet.
- Show that you’ve prepared: The fact alone that you’ve prepared builds a lot of confidence. But if you want to up your game even more, demonstrate the interviewers how you have prepared. Have a notebook with you, where you have jotted down some key information and questions you wanted to ask them. And keep the notebook visible. In addition, you might want to print out the main webpage of the company and make notes on that paper too.
2. Practice your presentation. Interviewers usually request that candidates say a little about themselves during the interview. Be prepared to shine when the limelight hits you!
- A personal pitch: Build and practice a short pitch about why you are a great catch. But to stand out, keep this in mind. Do not talk about you. Talk about what your future employer will get and gain if they hire you!
- Three stories: People are bad at remembering facts and figures, but very efficient at remembering emotions and stories. You need to leave the interview with the jury remembering you because you most likely aren’t the only one they meet. This is why you need stories! You are a professional with a proven track record. Make sure that you have practiced either entertaining or insightful stories to tell about it.
3. Fine-tune your resume: A common mistake that candidates make is filling their resumes with several pages of irrelevant information. Remember, interviewers might screen hundreds of resumes a day. What’s the first thing they will see when they glance yours? First impressions are hard to change, so make sure you nail it every time they take out your CV. In addition to that, the potential employer wants to see if you possess relevant experience that can contribute to their organization.
- A high-quality picture: Have one on the resume and make sure you smile on the pic. Of course, they don’t say it in public, but I personally know leaders who automatically discard all resumes that don’t have a pic with a smile.
- A twitter friendly headline: Make sure you have something memorable early on in the resume. Something that demonstrates what you believe in and why you might be a great match for this organisation. Start your headline with something like “I believe….”
- Career path that matches the new position: Go through each item on your career path and emphasize things that will make you a great match for this new high profile position. And don’t hesitate to take out irrelevant things.
4. Leverage time: There is an old wisdom in the field of marketing. It’s called the rule of seven. It means that your audience needs to be exposed to a new idea seven times before they start buying into it. So how could you be on the radar of your prospected employer seven times without being annoying? Here are a few examples that few of my colleagues have used successfully, that most of the candidates never do.
- Before the interview: Could you send an update to you CV few days before the interview? That would help you stay on the radar. Possibly add a certificate or an online course on the topic. (Hint: you don’t necessarily need to accomplish it during the process, just leave it out from the original copy you sent them).
- In the morning of the interview: Can you send a text to the interviewer to confirm your appointment. This gives a signal that this is important to you and that you are good with your calendar.
- The evening after the interview: Send an email saying thank you. Include a summary of your meeting with them and a P.S. that says something like “I liked your energy this morning. Is there something else I could do to convince you to consider me for this position?”
- Few days after the interview: Go online, find a relevant article or a blog post, and share that insight with your interviewer. But don’t push decisions at this point. Just deliver some value to them.
- Sometime after the interview: Call to follow up on decisions. Calling is a great way to signal the company that you are willing to extend yourself for important things.
5. Dress for the occasion: Remember that this high profile job interview requires much more from you than any other interview you’ve done. Not only do you have to act the part, but you also have to look the part.
- Wear a smile and a positive attitude: Practice smiling the first thing you walk in and shake their hands. Practice talking with a smile. Smiling both relaxes you and makes you more confident, it signals others that you would be a great coworker.
- Have a notebook with you and use it: Use a paper and pen notebook to demonstrate that you have prepared for the interview. And use it to take notes too! Practice quickly scribbling significant things down. This will signal the interviewer that you are serious about learning and capturing relevant stuff. Most people don’t do this, so it will help you stand out. The notes you take are also important when you send a quick recap about your meeting later that day.
- Wear matching clothes: If it’s possible, try to find out what kind of working clothes does the interviewer use. Try to dress matching. If you have no way of finding it out, be authentic to yourself. Authenticity is a highly regarded asset in most cases anyways.
In a job interview, you are the artist. Your job is to paint a great, inspiring picture of what it will be like to work with you. With these simple tips, your painting can become more impressive than anybody else’s
After all, your goal is to get hired. The smoothness with which you pull these tips off will determine a lot of the outcome of the interview. But how can you develop the smoothness then?
Well. It’s just the same way you develop every other skill too.
Practice! And repeat!