How to beat the other people who are applying for the same job as you

Unless you’re in an extremely specialized industry and are the only one out there who does what you do, getting a job usually involves vying for position with several other candidates. In many cases, you and all these other people have comparable levels of education and experience and are pretty much equally qualified.

So, how can you set yourself above all those other candidates and stand out to a potential employer? There are a few ways to do this, including adding to your hard skillset and improving your soft skills. But one really easy way of standing out that is often overlooked is to showcase your enthusiasm for the position.

Job seekers need to focus on the employer’s needs

Here’s the thing: job seekers are often far too focused on their own needs – I need a job – and what they fail to remember is that they should be focused on the hiring manager’s needs instead. And what the hiring manager/potential employer needs is someone who can do a job for them, which means making their lives easier and helping increase revenue (and usually, productivity, which also means increasing revenue – it’s all about revenue). This, ideally, means finding someone who really wants the job they are offering – not just any old job – and is excited about it.

Enthusiasm is important. Need evidence?

A few years ago I conducted a survey in which I asked more than 300 hiring managers the question, “If it comes down to two job candidates with equal skills and work experience, what is the factor that will move you to hire one over the other?”

The most popular response by a landslide (45.37%) was that they would choose the more enthusiastic candidate. This was followed in a very distant second place by “fit with the company culture,” and “sense of humour” in third. These were really far behind, however. So, while they are worth considering, first and foremost, you should be sure to convey your enthusiasm for a position.

Not sure how to do that? Here are five ways.

Do your research. Show up to the interview having done your research. Be knowledgeable about the company and role for which you’re applying. Asking questions to which you should already know the answers is a huge turnoff for employers. Know your stuff.

Be on time. Obvious, right? But don’t be late. Showing up late suggests you really don’t care about the job.

Don’t be distracted. Again, this one should be obvious, but pay full attention during the interview. A survey conducted not too long ago found that a full third of millennials think it’s acceptable to text during a job interview. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not.

Ask questions. Asking questions shows interest. While you should not, as we’ve just pointed out, ask questions like “So, what does this company do anyway?” You should ask questions that demonstrate that you’re putting serious thought into what you can bring to the company.

Some good examples:

“How is success measured for this role?”
“What would you like to see me accomplish in the first six months?”
“What can you tell me about the company culture?”
“Is there anything else I can tell you that would help convince you that I’m a good fit for this job?”

Ask about next steps: Before you leave, ask about what to expect following the interview. Not only will this convey your interest, it can help you to manage your expectations in the coming days and weeks.

Send a thank you note: Follow up after the interview with a message – via email is best – thanking the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest in the position, and ask if there is anything else they need from you.

These are all good ways to show the employer that you want the job and to stand out from the rest of the pack. Some of them will do some of these things. But almost no one will do all of them.

Be the only one.

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