Most large companies are going to get a lot of applications for most jobs. They’re also going to interview a lot of people. And after a while, the poor hiring manager – who is also often trying to get their own job done while looking for someone to hire – might forget who everyone is as all the faces and conversations blend together into a confusing mishmash.
When they think back, maybe everyone has similar qualifications, wore some variation on the same outfit, and is generally unmemorable.
But you! You can be different. One way to beat the competition here is to be the memorable one, to stand out from the crowd.
Here’s how to do that.
Cover the basics.
I don’t want to spend this whole article on the basics of getting hired and making a good impression. So, let’s just assume you’re going to be on time, dress well, be polite, take a shower, brush your teeth, make eye contact, smile, and give a firm handshake that means business but doesn’t crush anyone’s fingers. Oh, and that you have done your research on body language and know not to sit there slumped in your chair with your arms crossed. Now, onto more specific matters.
Wear something interesting.
I don’t mean a clown mask or purple leather chaps. But you can make somewhat bold fashion choices when dressing professionally. This might be a full-on awesome outfit, a splash of colour, a well-placed pattern, or a cool accessory that doubles as a conversation piece, depending on your industry and how much wiggle room you have. In most industries – save for fashion and some creative sectors – most people are going to show up for the interview wearing an unremarkable outfit in black, blue, or grey. Consider going one step outside of that realm to stand out.
Ask the interviewer about themselves
Yes, you have to talk about yourself a lot in the job interview. But do make a point of showing an interest in the interviewer. Take conversational cues to find out a bit about their background or work history, compliment something about their work and ask about it. People who talk about nothing but themselves and take no interest in others are indeed memorable – but for all the wrong reasons. Showing an interest in others makes you interesting.
Find something you have in common with the interviewer
If possible, connect over a common interest. Maybe it’s something professional, a sport, or your kids. We tend to gravitate towards people with whom we have things in common so this can help the interviewer remember you.
Ask interesting questions
Ask questions to which the interviewer can’t give pat answers, and that will make them think a bit, but not so much that it’s annoying. Asking interesting questions also shows that you have a keen mind.
You already know that you should be preparing your success stories in advance, those that demonstrate your achievements, problem-solving skills, etc.. But note that storytelling also makes you more memorable. Stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, work as mnemonic devices for facts and engage our emotions.
Talk about things other than the job
Give some context for who you are outside of work. Put forth something truly interesting that might make an impression. Do you have a unique interest or skill that you might not get a chance to mention in the context of work? Find a way to work it in.
Say hello to everyone
Be nice to everyone you encounter on your way into the building. Ask how they are. Make chit chat where possible. You want everyone to remember you from the receptionist to the office manager to the CEO. It’s possible that the hiring manager will ask people who met you what their impression was. You don’t want them to say “Who? Sorry. Can’t remember.”
I know I said I wasn’t going to spend much time on the obvious here, but do be prepared. Most people aren’t. So, showing up with your stories prepared and having done your research on the company will set you apart from pretty much everyone else. I also recommend that you even prepare the first thing you say when you meet the interviewer – this will help break the ice and ensure a smoother conversation.
Be holding some interesting reading material
Pay attention to what’s in your hands. Are you carrying around a copy of People magazine? Unless the job you’re going for involves celebrity gossip, put it away. Go for something related to your industry or, if you have cool interests, something related to that. Do you like birds? Carry a copy of Audobon magazine, place it on a visible surface and maybe the interviewer will ask about it. (Don’t fake this one. It would be pretty silly to be carrying a copy of Audobon magazine and be found out not to know anything about birds.)
Not arrogant. Confident. Confidence is attractive and true confidence is rare and memorable.
I once 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 was that they would choose the more enthusiastic candidate. Hiring managers want enthusiasm for the job, and if you show it they will remember.
Being memorable isn’t an exact science, and you probably have your own ideas. Also, ask yourself what makes you memorable in particular? Play up what’s great about you. There’s probably a lot to work with there.