Grads: How to Differentiate Yourself During the Interview

Grads: here are the five top things to do in an interview to land you that job.

If you’ve managed to land an interview for a grad position: congratulations, part of the challenge is out of the way. Now, your task is to ace that interview, and to do so, deploy these five techniques to give you that edge.

1. Bring paper and pen, and take notes

By bringing in a good notebook and a nice looking pen, it shows you mean business. This is a large differentiating factor simply because most people don’t do this when going for a job interview.

By taking notes, it demonstrates you’re listening and showing that you’re engaged and interested. The interviewer will see that you care about what they’re saying. It’ll also help track all the information you’re accumulating about the role, and keep track of all those questions you have.

2. Bring printed copies of your CV and research

Bring your CV just in case the interviewer doesn’t have a copy printed out. To further impress, print out the job description before the interview date, read it in detail and mark it up so that it has your notes on it.

Doing this shows that you’re prepared and that you’ve proactive, in that you’ve researched the role.

To look as professional as possible, bring your documents in a nice leather folio if you have one, or something which looks good. While a plastic cartoon folder does the job, it doesn’t help you to maximise the positive impression.

3. Dress well

Whether you agree with it or not, people judge you based on your looks. They make assumptions about your competence, ability and how serious you are based on how you hold yourself, how you walk and dress.

Men, if you don’t have a smart fitting suit, now is the time to get one. A tailored suit is your best bet, as it just fits the contours of your body, making you look and feel like a true professional. Suits and shirts which are too large will hang off your shoulders. Trousers which are too large make you look like a clown. Both are sloppy and do not impress.

Tailored suits and shirts don’t cost a fortune if you know where to get it done. Tailors from places like Bangkok and Hong Kong will often travel to countries to accept orders and offering much more affordable prices compared to a local tailor. Suits can last you decades, and is a good investment.

In general for all genders, dress well, professionally and conservatively. Be well groomed, and cover up tattoos. If you want the Power Job, wear the Power Suit.

4. Ask them what they’re really looking for

A while into the interview, after all the initial basis have been covered and discussed, a good question might be to ask: “You know, we’ve had a good discussion about the company, about the team, how I can fit in, but tell me: what are you really looking for? What is it that you want that’s not listed in the JD (job description), the type of person you think would be the perfect fit?”

This normally catches them off-guard, so you’ll be more likely to get an authentic answer from them. It’ll also help you truly understand their requirements and know what the interviewer is seeking in the perfect candidate. With that information, you can frame your experience and qualifications to match what they want.

5. Write a thank you note

If you can, exchange business cards with the interviewer, or at least obtain their full name. After the interview, send a thank you note. In addition to thanking them for the interview, it is the perfect opportunity to remind them you exist, as well as add some brief notes on things you wish you had said, or answer any question you promised to follow up on.

Email is perfectly fine in today’s day and age as a handwritten note would take too long to arrive. If you don’t have the interviewer’s email, use LinkedIn to search for them.

* * *

Fighting for that grad position is a game. You need to differentiate yourself in order to rack up points and increase the odds that the interviewer will remember you for all the right reasons, and pick you out of the hundred other students sniping for the same position.

Photo credits: IBM Research, Rebecca, Andreas Nilsson, Woodleywonderworks



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K Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Grads: How to Differentiate Yourself During the Interview
Grads: How to Differentiate Yourself During the Interview
Grads: here are the five top things to do in an interview to land you that job.
K Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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