Guest Contributor

How To Make a Great Impression During Your Next Interview

By | Dawn Castell

It’s not exactly an easy job market out there these days. Many businesses are making budget cuts and eliminating positions during this economic downturn. If you’re looking for a new job, though, don’t let this get you down. Sure, getting a new job might be more difficult, but it is not impossible. Rather than feel defeated, you can use this as an opportunity to make sure you make a great impression during your next interview. You want to be prepared to ensure that you put your best foot forward and stand out from your competition. There are many ways to make a great impression during the hiring process, but here are a few reliable methods for making sure you stand out, in the best possible way, to potential employers.

Be Prepared

Although it’s a well-known boy scout motto, it works in this situation as well: always be prepared. You should never come to an interview without having conducted extensive research on the company with which you’re interviewing. Learn about their vision and mission. Look up their core values and find out if they donate to any non-profit organizations. You will definitely want to take a look at the last couple of years’ worth of their financial reports, and be prepared to talk about their financial status. Even if you’re not interested in a marketing position, you’ll want to have at least some rudimentary knowledge of their marking plan. Know who their target audience is and how they’re trying to reach them. You should spend as much time as possible getting to know about the company. You’ll show them that you made the effort and you will be better situated to answer the questions. 

Provide Results-Oriented Examples

Telling compelling stories and being personable is great, but you want to demonstrate that you can actually produce results. By all means, you should tell the panelists that you’re currently pursuing an mba at USC, but make sure you also tell them about any articles you’ve had published or new programs you’ve created through internships. Or maybe you’ve managed social media platforms for prior employers and that resulted in 30% increased engagement. Bring that data with you to your interview and be prepared to discuss your tactics. Employers want to hire people who can get work done, so bring some examples of results-based accomplishments with you.

Brand Yourself

Before going into the interview, you want to identify a couple of core traits that define you as an employee – things that speak to who you are as a professional. These should be things that sum up your best qualities, they should be the best of what you have to offer. If you’re feeling stuck, ask a friend for feedback. Once you’ve determined your top qualities, try to bring them up as often as possible when you answer questions. If you think you are an excellent problem-solver, try to reference that in a few different responses. Being able to solve problems can help in so many different situations. If you brand yourself with something positive and consistent there’s a good chance you’ll be remembered at the end of the day. Most interview panels are a whole day event and panelists can talk to up to 12 people in a single day. It can be hard to remember specifics at the end of a long day when big decisions are being made. You want to do everything you can to make sure that you’re easily remembered. Make yourself stand out as someone who will be remembered for something positive.

Ask Exceptional Questions

It might sound cliché, but it’s true. You’re interviewing your potential employer just as much as they’re interviewing you. In order to be successful, you have to be a good fit with the organization. When the time comes for the panel to ask if you have any questions for them, take full advantage of it. It’s very common to be asked about your greatest accomplishments and significant weaknesses. Why don’t you ask about the company’s greatest accomplishments and notable weaknesses? If you like to collaborate with others, you might want to ask how different departments work with one another. Or perhaps you’re interested in how a future employer will measure your success. If that’s the case you might want to ask about their performance metrics. Let them know that you’re invested in performing well and so you want to know how you will be evaluated.      

There are many ways to stand out in an interview, and you want to choose things that feel right to you. However, you definitely want to take the time to prepare and make sure that you make the best positive impression.

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