It’s that big moment that you’ve been waiting for: the interview.
You’ve done all the right things to get noticed to get you to this point.
But, competition in this job market is tough. What can you do in your interview to stand out about the other candidates vying for the same position?
Now, of course, you should be doing your research on the company and each interviewer.
And, of course, you should be preparing and practicing answers to standard interview questions.
But, your competition will be doing these things, too.
So, how do you stand out?
How do you get the edge over the other qualified and prepared candidates?
There is a little secret that can help you get the edge.
Just like you, your interviewer is also a real, live human being.
Someone with a family, friends, a pet.
Someone with interests and hobbies.
Yes, sure, they have a professional career—that’s why you are meeting them in this situation—but it’s important to remember that their work-life is only one dimension of the people they are.
Think about it. If an interview were only about vetting your skills, why bother with an in-person meeting? They could just make you take an online test, right?
An interview is about more than your skills. It’s also about fit and chemistry with the existing team.
The fact is people want to hire someone they can connect with.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. You should never assume your interviewer is looking for a new BFF.
But, they are looking for someone who can not only do the job. They are looking for someone they can get along with. Someone that seems like they fit right in with the team.
Co-workers spend at least 40 hours a week with each other. Do you really think you’ll get hired by people who aren’t sure they could stand spending 40 hours a week with you?
Information is power. Use this human dynamic to your advantage.
You want to show up and be a person that your interviewer wants on the team.
Show your interviewers you have things in common.
Now, this can be done well. And this can be done poorly. The key to doing it well is to approach your common ground as your genuine self.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You won’t fool anyone.
Don’t lie and don’t exaggerate.
What you’re going to do is try to make a real, genuine connection with your interviewer—that’s thoughtfully curated for the person in front of you.
How do you find that common ground with strangers and use it in a way, that comes off as personable but still professional?
Apply learnings from your research on interviewers.
DO connect with their interests. For example, you can refer to a professional organization they belong to; a charity they volunteer with; a professional article or blog post they’ve authored. You’ll know about these things because you’ll have visited their LinkedIn profile in advance.
DON’T go digging through their personal life. If the only way you know your interviewer shares your love of macramé is because you dove three years deep into their Instagram profile, don’t bring it up.
Look for clues in your interviewer’s office setting.
DO make solid inferences about their interests based on unique items on display, such as a book on their desk that you read recently, a unique piece of art (versus a generic print you’d see in any office), or a university pennant.
DON’T make casual conversation about things you would never talk to a stranger about, such as their family. Don’t go down the family path. You have no idea what bad feelings you can trigger; steer clear. This talk does not belong in a professional interview.
Look for clues in your interviewer’s appearance.
DO look for clues into the person your interviewer is outside the office. For example, expensive running shoes are a good hint they lead an athletic lifestyle. Mala beads on their wrist show suggest they have a more spiritual side.
DON’T comment on cute shoes, unique jewelry, or anything they are wearing. You are not the fashion police; this remark sounds superficial at best.
Maybe this whole way of thinking makes you feel a little uneasy.
This isn’t about playing anyone. Reframe your thinking.
This is strategic advice to give you an edge. A little extra shine on top of all the great qualities and qualifications you bring to the table.
Do all of your homework before an interview.
Show up as your best self.
And if there’s a way you can make a genuine, personal connection with an interviewer, go for it.
It won’t guarantee you the job.
But, it will give you an extra edge.