Everyone in the job market has probably encountered the “usual suspects” of interview tips: bring a resume, make eye contact and wear clothes that don’t distract.
There’s a reason you hear some of these over and over: It’s good advice. But there’s so much more to landing a job in today’s market — and it takes more than coming with a list of questions and executing a Presidential handshake.
More than ever, it’s important to distinguish yourself from others in an interview, many of whom will have similar qualifications and skills. For your next interview, consider these suggestions to go the extra mile in a contest typically won by inches:
1. Research your interviewers and leaders in the company.
Look at the school they went to, their work history and what they do outside the office. Find a connection or insight that you can talk about or work naturally into your answers. If your interviewer says, "You’ll be working close with Kaitlyn," you should be able to say, "Oh, the Director of Media? I see she used to have a position similar to this, so she would be a great mentor."
2. Have something to say about the industry.
Read industry case studies, news reports and blogs in advance of your interview, and be ready to work important issues and insights into the conversation. It is less about sounding like an expert, and more about conveying your experience, interests and desire to contribute.
3. Be confident — and curious. Look at this interview as an opportunity to pick the brain of an expert.
Ask questions about internal issues like, “how are teams structured in this organization?” and external issues such as “where do you think the industry is headed?” Asking smart questions can tell an employer a lot about you. In return, it provides helpful backstory about the company and people you hope to work with.
4. Know their challenges.
You want to know what a company is trying to do and what is stopping them from doing it. Dig into a company’s client base, customer base and recent successes and failures to show that you’re aware of their most vital challenges. This forward thinking tactic will reveal your dedication and prompt the interviewer to envision you in the role.
5. Talk About the Competition.
A strong understanding of what keeps your boss-to-be awake at night is one way to put any doubts about your candidacy to bed. Dazzling your interviewer with numerous tactics for overcoming the company’s competitors is another great way to show you’re ready to hit the ground running as a valued team member. Plus, your eagle-eye view of the competitive landscape also shows that you think about the big picture and invites a more open-ended conversation about ways you can help the organization.
In today’s competitive landscape it’s all about strategic preparation and not taking any opportunity for granted. Maintaining that level of commitment is tough, but rewarding. You cannot control every variable in landing a job, but arming yourself with information is a great way to tip the scales in your favor.