How to Stand Out In Your Interview

If you’ve read a lot of mainstream advice on how to succeed on interviews, you’ve no doubt already heard all of the conventional advice like:

  • Smile
  • Research the company
  • Make a follow-up call
  • Talk about what you can give to the company

And if I asked you what the most important keys to success are you could easily say:

  • Credentials
  • Work history/experience
  • Networking
  • Professional appearance

If you’ve read all this advice, so have I.

But after spending a long time trying to land a job after graduating college, and after reading endless books on how to have the perfect job interview, there was one question I was left asking myself that nobody seemed to have an answer to:

How do you actually stand out if every other person around you is already using these “tricks”, such as calling back, smiling, dressing nicely, thinking about the employer’s needs, etc.?

In my own experience, I quickly found that everyone else was had already received all this advice as well, rendering me nothing more than another person in a stack of resumes that does absolutely nothing different to stand out from the crowd.

You Need To Be Different

If everyone else is already doing something, and you “go the extra mile” along with them, you no longer stand out from the crowd, but rather just blend in.

And if everyone else already has all the same “experience” (aka work history) you’ve spent your life accumulating, and you just look as ordinary as everyone else, how do you really stand out in an interview and make an impression that really stands out in any interviewer’s mind, and leaves them actually remembering you prominently in their mind after 30 interviews, so that you’re not just another name on a piece of paper with a bunch of jobs listed like everyone else?

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Human!

Having built my career on working with people on social and communication skills, I can tell you the first mistake most of us make:

We think people are 100% logical in the hiring process. We tend to think of interviewing and landing a job as a sort of mechanical process where you do A, B, and C to make yourself “presentable” or “professional”, and if you can do these things the person will see you’re the most qualified, or the best fit for the job, and they will hire you.

Unfortunately, we forget one factor:

You’re not dealing with an interview computer software that is 100% unbiased.

You’re dealing with a HUMAN BEING who is basing 99% of their decision to hire you on how they FEEL about you.

And the one point most of us overlook here is that a person’s feelings aren’t logical, and in order to really stand out in a person’s mind and not just be another interview from a stack of resumes, you need to be that one person who really builds rapport and makes an emotional connection with the person you’re interviewing with.

Now, there are two reasons this is crucially important:

1) You will instantly stand out from everyone else.

When you can build rapport, an interviewer (just like any other person) will associate warm, positive feelings with you; think about when you look at a picture of someone you have a close connection with, and just seeing their name or photo makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside; everyone else will just be a name on a paper, but the you will stand out to an interviewer because you built a REAL RELATIONSHIP with the human being who’s favor you are trying to win in order to get hired.

2) They will look past your experience or credentials.

It’s common knowledge that we will prioritize people we are close to, such as our family and friends, over other people in our decision making process. This is a great way to really stand out with people and go beyond all the typical interview “tricks” that everyone else already knows, thereby rendering them useless.

What you don’t want to do is think of an interviewer as someone you’re trying to just present all your qualifications and experiences to as formally as possible; you want to see the interviewer the same way you’d see a friend over a cup of coffee. Your goal should be to be able to present yourself as a friend; smiling, laughing, likeable.

Too many people make the mistake of acting “mechanical” in an interview, and trying to remove as many signs of individuality as possible. We try to make sure our language is “perfect” and “professional”, and we try to act like an interview is a big serious event, instead of treating it as what it is:

One human being looking for a connection with another human being.

Don’t Treat An Interview Like It’s “Special”

The biggest problem I find with in my work with clients is that all of their problems with relating to other people come down to one common denominator:

They overthink everything, make themselves scared to death, and try to guess what’s going on in the other person’s head (which we have no way of knowing), and then trying to think of the “perfect” thing to say or do to please the other person’s mind so they will like us.

And the funny thing is (and you’ve probably noticed this in your own life), is that the people who don’t try to be liked, and just put themselves out there openly, honestly, and authentically, are the people who are the most successful (“charming” is a common term to describe this attitude)

People are naturally themselves come off as warm, inviting, memorable, and instantly likable when compared with others; so imagine how a very personal, warm, outgoing person would make an impression on a potential employer while the other 29 candidates come in acting like “social robots”.

Most of us can be ourselves in every area of our lives, but when it comes to job interviews, we immediately and unconsciously become robotic and think that we need to put on a façade in order to get the other person to like us.

Step Into An Employer’s Shoes

Before I warp up this post, I want you to consider, if you were a potential employer, what would have a more powerful effect on your decision to hire someone you were going to have to work with possibly for the next 5 or 10+ years:

Their logical qualifications and work experience…

Or how comfortable, pleasant, and happy you feel around them?

9 times out of 10, people tell me they would hire the person they like, and will even forgo a slightly more qualified or experienced candidate, because they know that a specific person would easily fit in with everyone else at the office, and would fit in perfectly with the company’s culture.

While I’m not saying at all that work experience and qualifications count for nothing, the fact is there’s more competition for jobs than ever, and showing some personality and being yourself will instantly make you stand out, and leave an instant memorable impression in any interviewer’s mind.

If you use these tips, even if he or she has 30+ other applicants with the exact same experience (or perhaps even more), employers will remember and choose you, because you’re the one they felt good around, remembered, and you’re the person they know they like, and can build a good, solid relationship with, rather than just another piece of a paper and “in-and-out” interview like everyone else.

Chris Nosal teaches social skills and interpersonal communication through his eBooks, programs, as well as personal consultations. For more information you can visit his website at

Related: The Psychology of Job Interviews: How To Prepare Mentally.

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