Career Development Interview Advice

A Guaranteed Way to Stand Out in a Job Interview

A Guaranteed Way to Stand Out

Before a job interview, conduct as much research as humanly possible about the organization and gain a strong understanding of the company’s history, their current position in the industry, and their future goals.  Learn as much as possible about the industry as well.  If you can understand the company’s potential challenges and the challenges of the industry, this sets you apart from other candidates because you will be in tune with the employer’s needs which will show during the interview process.  However, if you can use the information you have to actually develop a fully researched proposal that solves an existing problem, you will stand out among 99% of candidates.  If you have less experience than your competition, you need to go all out if you want the job and this is one way to do just that.

Why It Will Work

It is hard work to conduct research, identify solutions to existing challenges and to propose feasible solutions based on solid data, sound reasoning, and a thorough understanding of limitations and resources.  This is exactly why most people don’t go out of their way to propose insightful solutions to existing problems.  It’s hard enough for employers to get their own employees to proactively solve problems or anticipated future problems.  If a potential candidate does this in a job interview, it is extremely impressive.  If you can walk into an interview with a proposal, an insightful analysis, or some sort of leave behind that clearly demonstrates how you can solve an employer’s existing problems or do the work they need, that is the absolute best way to convince someone you can do the job.

Showing that you’ve done a good job in the past helps convince employers that you will likely do a good job in the future but in the end, employers are still making an educated guess.  Why not take the guessing out of the equation? If you want to absolutely convince an employer that you can do the job, walk into the interview with a solution or an example of a project done specifically to show them that you can do the work they need.  Beyond demonstrating your ability to do the job, you will impress the employer with your initiative.

A Real-World Example

A real-world example of this is when I helped a graduate land a job at a multi-media company by advising them to create a custom project for the company.  The company was hiring a Flash Developer to make E-learning applications.  The graduate was talented and had some nice portfolio samples but I advised that they create an entirely new Flash project designed to teach something because I knew competition was fierce.  The graduate created a Flash project that used animated graphics to teach an audience how to make a cake.  It was a simple idea that only took a few hours to complete.  When the graduate went to her interview, before leaving, she made sure to show her project.  The employer was so impressed that she took the initiative to demonstrate that she could use her skill and talent to do the work they needed, that they ended up hiring her.  Later, the employer told me that there were other candidates who had better portfolios, who interviewed better, and who had more experience but that they had chosen the graduate because of her initiative to show them she could do what they asked.  In a highly competitive market, candidates need to go above and beyond and this is a guaranteed way to stand out.  If you still don’t get the job, you’ve still added something to your portfolio and you have another story to tell in your next interview about a time when you went above and beyond.  You still end up winning!

If you have a similar real-world example of this tactic, leave a comment explaining the example so others can get ideas.

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