Talent Acquisition

12 Things Your Candidate Should Say at Interviews

Recruiters have a whole arsenal of advice for the candidates in their care. But a lot of this advice tends to be negative: don’t say this, don’t shake hands like that. As with most feedback, when critiquing a candidate’s mock-interview it is easier to address what went wrong than to cook up positive new ideas about how to do better.

However, there are plenty of positives you can offer. Strengths that the candidate should stick to, for example. And complementing their choice of tie doesn’t hurt. But in addition to mentioning some stuff that candidates should go out of their way to avoid saying, there are also some great one-size-fits-all phrases that interviewees can adapt to make an extra special impression on the interview panel.

For example, Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster, recommends demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role as clearly as possible. Try opening with something like: “I was so excited when I learned this position was open.”

Kelly Marinelli, Solve HR’s president, and principal consultant suggests pairing this with a more precise explanation, perhaps by explaining briefly what it is about this specific company that has had your client waiting for a vacancy to arise. They could go so far as to describe a specific achievement or technique that the company has exhibited – something that demonstrates the candidate has done their homework.

Once your client has sat down and the interview proper has begun, there’s a pretty high probability that they’ll be asked to tell the panel more about themselves. This question is common, yet tends to either paralyze the recipient or lead them onto a meandering speech taking in everything from their childhood dreams to the order in which they put on their socks in the morning. So, what makes for a good alternative?

“It should be a high-level overview of what you’ve done in your career and where you want to go – and it doesn’t hurt to mention a few things you like to do in your spare time to add color,” says Carolyn Betts Fleming, the CEO, and founder of Betts Recruiting. She recommends candidates to “practice and prepare” for this question and “keep it to one minute or less.”

Impressing interviewers isn’t just about the information your candidate provides, but the framework in which they provide it. Sure, interviewers want to know what your candidate can do. But if your candidate can specifically explain what they can do for this employer then they’re sure to find a more avid listener on the opposite side of the table.

“Nothing says ‘hire me’ more than letting the interviewer know you know what issues they are facing and you also know how to help them fix them,” says Erin Kennedy, CEO at Professional Resume Services.

“It’s a case of an attitude or approach that focuses on the value you can bring to the employer,” agrees Georgia Adamson, CEO of A Successful Career. “You need to clearly indicate potential value and relevance to the employer’s needs.”

And what to say on the way out, so as not to blow the good work? It’s very simple, according to bestselling management author Suzy Welch. So obvious that most people forget to say it. Four little words:

I want this job.”

The wise people over at have done their homework and researched 12 winning phrases to use at job interviews – as recommended by a raft of top careers experts. And they’ve packed it into this fine new infographic.

Why not share it with your candidates? It’s an excellent way to keep things positive preparing for their next job interview – and hopefully to get the positive outcome they desire.

About the author: John Cole writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.

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