If you have a degree from Harvard and were a star performer in your last job, stop reading now and accept our congratulations in advance. However, if you’re one of those people with a regular, unimpressive, middle-of-the-road resume and are wondering why despite being granted interviews at companies you’d actually like to work for, you only get hired by the most mediocre employers, it could be that your performance at interviews is impressing no one.
However, without too many bragging rights, what’s a hapless job seeker to do? Eunice, a 31-year-old recruitment agent, says that one of the key reasons employers cite for rejecting interviewees is their personality and the fear that they won’t get along with the candidate. Here are some ways you can impress your job interviewer even with a mediocre CV:
If you’re wondering whether you can get away without wearing a jacket to an interview, you should most definitely be wearing one. Singaporean interviewers often complain about the fact that interviewees turn up in clothes that are either too casual or just make them look like they didn’t make the effort. You would think this is common sense by now, but trust me, you don’t want to even begin to imagine the extent to which some candidates underdress.
No matter how winning your personality is, you are going to be judged by what you wear and how well-groomed you are. Even if you’re not willing to spend a lot of money buying outfits for work, have at least one set of well-cut, high quality clothing just for interviews. If you can get it tailored, even better (hint: head to Thailand for cheaper tailored suits).
Be interesting when asked about your interests
You might think the hobbies section on your resume is irrelevant. But surprise surprise, many interviewers, particularly those who are hiring for PMET or high level positions, care about who you are as a person, not just whether you can sit there and plug away for 15 hours a day. This is especially so if you’re one of many candidates being grilled.
A partner in the legal industry once complained that each time candidates (mostly with stellar grades on their CVs) were asked about their interests, they replied that they enjoyed watching movies and listening to music. That’s just way too boring. If you’ve got any fascinating interests or are very into a particular hobby, tell the interviewer about it with gusto if asked. Unless you have a truly disturbing or illegal hobby, your enthusiasm will lend the interview an air of positivity.
Any impressive achievements in a particular sport or hobby should also be highlighted. If you were a former national softball player, maintain a well-known website about one of your interests or are proficient in a musical instrument or foreign language, highlight these achievements. They’ll make you seem like a person with drive, depth and ability, rather than a drone with no zest for life.
No matter how impressive your CV is, if the interviewer thinks you’re an asshole, you’re not going to get hired. Eunice says that employers sometimes reject interviewees on the basis that they don’t think they will adapt to the company culture or fit in.
Many candidates focus so hard on trying to impress an interviewer or not be caught out by difficult questions that they forget how important it is to be likeable. If you’re able to make the interviewer laugh (assuming he’s laughing with you and not at you), your chances of getting hired increase instantly.
Talk about your past achievements with enthusiasm
Unless you’re being hired as a screwer-on of toothpaste tubes, are a fresh grad or were born yesterday, you’re going to be asked about your previous jobs. And it behooves you at this point to mention past achievements or successes.
Even if your biggest achievement was simply completing the tasks assigned to you without screwing up too many times, try to convey to the interviewer that you enjoyed your work and were enthusiastic about it. An employee who displays passion for the job despite average performance is often viewed more favourably than one who is very qualified but seems blasé about the job—especially in a robust employment market where job hopping is common.
I was once told by an interviewer that his main concern in filling the position was to find a person who would not find the work too boring and was willing to stay with the company in the long term. He went on to lament that previous employees in that position had quit after a year or two because the work was too monotonous. In this case, it was clear that an enthusiastic and loyal candidate would have been favoured over a flippant one with better credentials.
Have you ever managed to impress an interviewer? Tell us how you did it in the comments!