One of the toughest parts of the job-hunt is getting past the written application stage.
While a resume is excellent for communicating your skills and accomplishments, it’s not a great tool for conveying your personality. Your cover letter can certainly convey your personality a bit, but only to a certain degree.
As soon as you’re called in for an interview, you go from being words on a page to a living, breathing human being. Now the the ball is in your court – and the last thing you want to do is be forgettable. So here are some tips on how to make your first impressions count with a potential employer.
Wear something memorable
No, don’t break out your powder-blue tuxedo. But wearing an appropriate, but memorable accessory can help you stand out among other applicants.
For instance, if you’re wearing a suit, you could wear a bow tie, or a coloured pocket square. If you decide to wear a dress or skirt, you could accessorize with some brightly coloured jewelry. Many interviewees tend to play it safe by sticking with classic neutral colours – but even something small to make your outfit “pop” can help you do the same in an interviewee’s mind.
Furthermore, this can be a great conversation starter – if your interviewer happens to like what you’re wearing, it could spark an interesting conversation that they’re not going to have with other candidates.
Take an interest in them as a person
Yes, interviewers are people too. And when they finish their day at five o’clock, they go back to their lives of being a parent, athlete, artist, volunteer – you name it!
People, for the most part, like talking about themselves. If you ask them about their day, and seem genuinely interested, they’re usually happy to share. So while there will be time for the spotlight to be on you, remember to take some time before and after to make smalltalk.
If you’re not sure where to begin, see if they have a Linkedin profile. Take a look at their interests and previous experiences. Chances are, you’ll find something you can bring up casually and chat about. And if you do it well, you will very likely leave a positive impression on your interviewer.
Be passionate and genuine
There’s nothing more invigorating than watching someone who is passionate about what they do. It’s important to show why you love what you do, and the energy that you’ll bring to the company.
This doesn’t mean that you eat, sleep, and breathe maintenance work 24 hours a day, or you’ll work overtime because you absolutely love working with spreadsheets. Instead, your passion should stem from the satisfaction you get as a result of the job – or even aspects of the job. An applicant might not love stocking shelves in retail, but they might get an immense sense of satisfaction from coming up with organizational plans and executing them.
You might even link your work ethic to a hobby in your life. If you are a fan of sports, talk about how that passion links to different facets in your life, including work. Or if you’re a musician, talk about skills you’ve gained through teamwork and collaboration.
Taking notes tells your interviewer that you’re listening. But more importantly, it says that you are invested in the information they’re giving you, and you’re open to learning new things. Even if a candidate has all the experience needed for the job, if they’re not willing to learn, they’re of little use to the employer.
Bring along a notebook or a tablet to take your notes. If it has a colourful or eye-catching cover – bonus! Again, like a memorable accessory, this is another way you can start a conversation with your employer.
One last point – don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something. Your note-taking skills are not being judged, but your attitude is!