I’ve Interviewed 100+ Candidates — This is the No. 1 Thing That Makes Successful Ones Stand Out

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Catalina Peña16
April 16, 2024 at 2:12AM UTC

Interviewing is everyone’s least favorite subject. For job seekers, stressful, long interview preparation can feel like it’s never enough. Interview rounds keep coming and waiting for an answer feels never-ending. 

While we are caught up in the job search, we must remember that the person in front of us has also had to sit through hundreds of interviews. For them, interviews can seem like a never-ending loop of too-long “tell me about yourself” summaries and “my biggest failure is that I work too hard” stories. 

Once we realize that the person in front of us is also tired of interviews, we have the opportunity to become the interview that stands out. So how might we do that, you ask? 

Remember the golden rule — treat others the way you like to be treated.

This golden rule reminds us that we are all human and allows us to set the foundation for a great and connected interview. 

Before you log onto your zoom call or start the interview in person, put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. Imagining what their day must’ve been like so far. They are probably rushing with a million things on their to-do list. They’ve probably just reviewed your resume before they came to greet you. When they come in say hi, offer them some time to get settled before starting the interview, and then flow into the interview through a natural conversation.

Now that you know the number one thing that makes interviewees shine, here are four other golden rules of interviewing.

1. Keep your answers to two minutes tops.

The thing about interviews that most people get wrong is that they are not really about us. They are an opportunity for the person interviewing us to understand more about our experience and determine whether we can help the company in the position we are applying for. 

We want to allow the interviewer to be curious by sharing a high-level overview of our experience, past work environment, and our overall impact instead of trying to tell them about every little detail about our last role. 

Once you have shared your overview, wait for the interviewer to ask questions about your experience so that a natural conversation can flow. If they don’t ask any follow-up questions, you can ask, “Is there any part of my answer that I could explain more in detail?” to see what they are curious about.

2. Use the STAR method for all your examples.

Using the STAR method helps add structure to your answers and keeps your interviewer engaged. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and helps the interviewer understand the situation from start to finish and quantify your impact. Here are some great tips for using the STAR method in an interview.

3. Always tie it back to the company.

People will answer an interview question thoroughly but end up so far from where they started — that it’s confusing why they shared that in the first place! This means that whenever you finish answering a question, always add a sentence that ties your example to the company’s goals or mission so that the interviewer can clearly understand the connection between your previous experience and the value it adds to the company. If an interviewer can see the value you add to the company and its goals, the easier it will be for them to advocate for you when deciding whether to move forward or not. 

4. Remember to ask for the job.

Interviews often end without a clear understanding of next steps. It can be nerve-wracking to wait for the recruiter to get back to you. 

However, you can get some real-time feedback by asking for the job before the interview ends. This means the last question you ask the interviewer should be something like, “Is there anything that you need clarity to move forward in the interview process?”. This allows them to tell you in real-time what they have concerns about. It also allows you to help them understand your value to the company before the interview ends. If they say they are clear on everything, you can ask them what would next steps be to see if they can provide any information before the interview is over.

Above all, remember that the interviewer is also tired of interviews. After implementing these five tips, you should be able to walk away from the interview feeling more confident, connected and clear which will help make the waiting process easier. And if you forget any of these, remember that interviewing is a skill that needs to be learned — so continue practicing to become a bit more natural in interviews. Wishing everyone luck in their job search!

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice on standing out in interviews? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.

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