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Make Your Mark: 10 Ways to Stand Out in an Interview

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Whether you're applying for your first internship or your dream job, you need to make sure that you make a lasting impression on your interviewer. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of other people applying for the same position that you are striving to get. You have to leave your mark in a positive way so your interviewer remembers you and potentially hires you in the future. Here are some things you can do to stand out in an interview:

1. Prepare Your Key Points

Preparation is vital. You should research the company you are interviewing for so that you have background information and do not sound lost during the interview. If you just make up a random answer to a question, your interviewer will most likely know and won't be thrilled. Write down a few hypothetical questions before your interview and practice answering them, whether you do it by yourself or with a friend.

2. Relax and Be Personable

An interview can be extremely nerve-wracking, especially if it is for a position that you really want to have. However, if you are tense and nervous, your interviewer will sense that energy. Take a deep breath and be yourself. You should express your personality so that you stand out from everyone else. Stay calm and don't be too serious. It's okay to smile.

3. Talk About Your Experience

Explain what you can offer to the company, even if it doesn't relate to the position you are applying for. You may be qualified to do other jobs that you don't know about yet. Talk about your most useful professional skills and strengths.

4. Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Your Interests

Your interviewer wants to know who you are, more than at a working level. If you love writing and photography, mention that during the interview. Your interests can benefit you in the workforce and make you more relatable to the interviewer.

5. Dress Appropriately

Depending on the job you are applying for, dress code is almost always crucial. You don't want to walk into a professional setting wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Make sure to wear something that makes you look presentable, without going over the top. Dress pants and a dress shirt would be appropriate for a man, while a dress or a nice skirt and blouse would be suitable for a woman. You want your interviewer to know that you are put together and presentable for work.

6. Be Confident

If you know enough information about the place you are applying to and have practiced your interviewing skills in advance, there is no reason to be worried. Interviewers can sense confidence, which is a great attitude to have in the workforce. A strong personality makes a strong impact.

7. Have an Updated Resume

Make sure that your resume is up to date and formatted correctly. Most universities have career advisors that can help you edit your resume to make it the best it can be. The career center at your school is there to guide you. Be sure that your resume only has your most important jobs and experiences on it, so that your future employers see the highlights of your past involvements.

8. Ask Questions

If you have a question, ask it! Interviewers are already a part of the job that you want to be in, so they are a great resource for answers. If you don't have any questions, you may seem uninterested. You can ask a variety of questions as simple as company contact information or certain company policies. You can even ask the interviewer how they got involved in the company and what suggestions they have for you to succeed in it.

9. Talk About Your Goals

Tell the interviewer what you wish to accomplish with this job opportunity. It will make you look prepared and motivated to achieve.

10. Mention Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It is always tempting to only focus on what you are good at when talking to an interviewer. After all, you are trying to impress that person so you can get hired. However, you can't be good at everything. Talk about your professional strengths so the company knows what you want to focus on. Don't lie about your weaknesses. If your interviewer asks you about a certain skill that you aren't good at, tell them. Otherwise, if you get hired, you may be expected to do that skill and you will be lost. Companies can train you to do specific tasks, so it's okay to not have prior knowledge about selected skills.

There are numerous ways for you to stand out in an interview, but these are the key approaches you should take. Next time you prepare for an interview, keep these tips in mind. Most importantly, come prepared and don't be nervous!

By: Natalie Roytman, University of Iowa