How the heck do you stand out in a job interview?

How do you stand out when competition is so tight?

Sometimes we fall into the trap of relying too much on a good cover letter and resumé to make us stand out. But our competition probably came prepared to answer interview questions thoroughly, they probably have similar experience, and they might also get along with the interviewers just like you. So what do you do?…

You literally have to take control of the interview. Make it yours and lead it.

I’ll show you my two secrets to burning a lasting impression in your interviewer’s mind that landed me a job within about two months. Let’s talk about it!

Before we get into it, I have a free gift for you! If you are just beginning your writing career or at a loss for what to include in your writing portfolio, my guide to building a portfolio with little or no professional writing experience is exactly what you need. You’ll have a portfolio you can feel great about without even needing to be hired in order to have samples of your work! Check it out:

My wits’ end

In 2020, I was about seven months into hard core job searching, applications, networking, and interviews. I would feel great after each interview, but then was hit with a “we need someone with more experience” every…single…time. I was over it. I knew I was qualified for each role and couldn’t understand how I was continuously being told I did not have enough experience.

I was at my wits’ end and had to really dig deep into the source of the problem: my resumé, cover letter, interview responses, and even portfolio were not enough to showcase everything I was capable of.

I was relying too much on my good resumé, cover letter, portfolio, and interview skills. It sounds weird since you’d think you’re doing it right if you have those four items in good shape. Turns out, a LOT of other writers have those in good shape as well. So what else can you possibly do? 

After some soul searching and mega brainstorming, I landed on the idea to create a job description presentation for each interview.

The golden presentation

See, your resumé and cover letter can only say so much about your experience. And in a 30-60 minute interview, you don’t necessarily cover everything either. So for one interview, I copy and pasted the job description in a Word document and under each item of the job description, I made a bulleted list that went into detail about my experience on that particular item. 

Then, I presented that document during the interview so my interviewers could literally see that I had thorough and specific examples of the experience for every single item of THEIR job description. If I could, I would also email the document to them before the interview so that they could review it beforehand and always refer back to it when they were reviewing candidates.

By using this strategy, you also make it extremely hard for your interviewers to come back to you and say you don’t have enough experience when you clearly laid it ALL out for them. You also stand out among the other candidates because you literally take over the interview and show how much you want this job and how qualified you are. 

My interviewers were all very impressed. Trust me, nobody else is doing this type of presentation for an interview (until maybe now that this post is published). 

The final interview question

This final question is extremely important.

For the very last question of the entire interview, I ALWAYS ask, “What hesitations do you have about me that may prevent me from moving forward in the interview process?” Phrased EXACTLY like that, word for word. (Not “Do you have any hesitations…” because we don’t want to ask a yes or no question—we want to force them to think of an actual answer). 

After presenting your jaw-dropping job description presentation, this question will stump them and force them to think about why they wouldn’t consider you, which is usually hard for them to come up with at this point.

Now, this question may feel a little forward, a little direct, or a little pushy maybe. But trust me, this is the other piece of the puzzle that will make you stand out AND I’ve actually been thanked by several interviewers for asking this question. 

Go get ‘em

These two secret weapons (the job description presentation and the final question) are the icing on the job hunting cake that resulted in success for me. I am willing to bet that not even a fraction of your competition is doing these two strategies.

Like I mentioned, this strategy landed me a job within about two months—and I also used a similar tactic at a previous company for an interview and I was promoted. I even shared this idea on Reddit and someone messaged me about a week later and told me they made a job description presentation and got a job offer. 

Be bold. Be confident. You know what you are capable of and that you deserve a rewarding career. Show them what you got.

Best of luck!

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