1. Build a brand
When you’re applying for a job, you could be like so many others – BORING! You could have nothing interesting, innovative, novel or remarkable about you.
You could send in a CV in the same style, font, line-height, line-spacing as EVERYBODY ELSE. Now think for a second, what’s going to be remarkable and memorable about you? Answer: NOTHING!
Businesses spend hundreds, thousands, millions each year building a brand, so why don’t you? If you have no brand and aren’t sure where to start, ask yourself:
- Am I on LinkedIn?
- Do I have a personal website?
- Do I have personal business cards?
- Is my CV different?
- Does it have extra polish?
- Does it have sharp wording?
- Does it have professional color?
- Do I have a personal video introducing myself?
Tim Reid at the Small Business, Big Marketing Podcast gives a good introduction to this.
2. Turn up early
The surest way to not get the job is to be late or scrape in on time. If you can’t even turn up on time, then rightly or wrongly, this says a lot about you in the mind of the interviewer.
The sad thing is, a lot of very talented and capable people barely organize themselves and then wonder why they aren’t called back. Don’t be one of these people! Without wanting to flog a dead horse here:
- Know where you need to be
- Know who you are talking to
- Have contact details handy – email, linkedIn, phone, fax and website
- Check out the place on Google Maps so that it’s easier to find
But don’t be too early either. Being on time means being (no more than) 10 – 15 minutes early. That way you’re not hanging about and needing to be looked after, and you’re not cutting it so close that you’re filling out paperwork when you should be in the interview.
3. Preempt interview questions
When you interview for a role, it’s so important to articulate why you’re it, the bomb- shizzel, the top notch, top dog, the A1 with a bullet! So pre-empt questions that you might get asked and be prepared with answers that show why you’re the right person to hire.
Try what Greek businessman, Aristotle Onassis, used to do: he rehearsed in his mind (for hours if necessary), asking himself questions that would likely be asked and refining multiple answers until he nailed each and every one of them perfectly.
Don’t let yourself be surprised. Take the initiative and pre-empt!
4. Research the organization thoroughly
If you get the job, you’ll probably work there for 2+ years, 44 – 48 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 7 – 10 hours a day. So you should damn well know a TON about these people, what they do, who they are, when they kicked off, why they did so, what they’ve done recently, where they’re going and WHY!
This isn’t sucking up to the teacher and offering them an apple – this is YOUR career and your life. So take it seriously.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few helpful resources: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Companies House (or the local companies register), plus the company’s website and press releases. The list goes on and on.
5. Don’t talk too much
Consider these two quotes:
- The less you talk, the more intelligent you look
- The more the other person talks, the more rope they give themselves to hang themselves with
If you’re forever talking, there’s the chance you’ll do one or more of the following:
- Slip up
- Use a poor choice of words
- Use nothing words such as “um”, “err” and “aaah”
- Meander off-topic or in and out of many unrelated topics
- Confuse people listening to you
If the other person is doing most of the talking, you have the chance to hear things you can use to reinforce and build your case for why you’re the dead-set star that they need. They’re literally giving you ammunition to work with.
Maybe you talk too much because you’re nervous or you’re just a chatty kind of person. Well, take some of the advice from Mark Quinn here on Brazen Careerist and track your speech. He says it well: “If you find yourself talking too much, start asking questions… nothing says ‘I’m intelligent’ more than asking good questions.”
6. Be open-minded
Do you have preconceived ideas about what people, companies and management expect? If you say no, I’d say you’re lying. Of course you do; it’s part of who we are as human beings. But have you ever thought these preconceived notions might just be wrong?
Here’s a classic one: the interviewer is in the position of power and authority. Wrong! Consider this: You’re actually interviewing THEM! That’s right, you are interviewing them, not the other way around. You’ve come to meet with them to see if they meet the following criteria of “You Inc”:
- Are they a company that you want to work for, that can truly use your skills?
- Are they providing a position that’s worth your skills and expertise?
- Will they provide the career opportunities you seek for your career?
7. It’s not all about you
That’s right, it’s not – sorry to say it. Actually, I’m really happy to say it. This is one thing that tripped me up until I got over it.
A key part of the interview process is basic human interaction and psychology. Believe it or not, we’re not that far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom; no matter how intelligent we believe that we are. Each time we walk in to an interview we’re eyeing each other up and down, sussing each other out. What are they wearing? What’s their hair like? Are they standing tall and confident? Do they seem sure of themselves?
No matter what we say, we do judge. No matter how good you are, well prepared you are, firm your handshake is, sometimes you just won’t cut the mustard, at least not in their eyes.
They have their biases and beliefs about you and who they believe is right for the position. Both of these things are outside your circle of control. If they size you up and don’t believe you’re right, unless someone overrules them or they go against their better judgment, you’re out.
The lesson? Don’t take it too personally.
If you take these pointers and build on them, you’ll stand out from the competition by a country mile. You might not always nail the job you want, but you will stand out and you will be remembered.
Which of these is the most difficult for you?
Matthew Setter is a writer, technical editor and proofreader who runs Very Web Written. His mission is to help businesses present their online message in an engaging and compelling way so they’re noticed and remembered.
This article is reprinted with permission from Brazen Careerist.