What answers make the biggest impression in an interview? How can you stand apart from other candidates?

Most every day a mentee or a coaching client asks me these very questions. Bree is an immensely qualified candidate. Her credentials include stellar academics, three summers of top tier internship experiences and recognized on-campus leadership in various organizations. Unbelievably, she was not making it past the first round of interviews. She spent time with me to see if she could understand why she has not received a job offer, yet.

What we discovered is that Bree was very prepared for standard interview questions. In fact, you might say she was able to quote text book answers for every question. We concluded that her approach to answering the questions might be what was impeding her success. She had all the right answers, but the wrong style. Her methodology was analytical but not very authentic.

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Interviewers and hiring managers are not looking for text book answers. They want to get to know the person behind the resume. Credentials get you in the door for an interview, but it takes something more to turn interviews into a job offer. In this day of quicker interviews that are often virtual, how can you convey information that helps you stand out among all of the other candidates?

4 Ways to Stand Out in the Crowd of Candidates

When answering interview questions, use the following framework:

Begin with the end in mind. With sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor and others, it’s easy to know what questions might be asked. Prepare an answer for those questions by deciding how where you intend to go with the answer. What is the main thought you wish to convey in every question? During the interview, when you are asked a question, take a breath and give yourself a moment to decide where you are going with the answer. This will keep you from rambling through an answer and failing to deliver substance.

Make it personal. An interview is the time to make the conversation about you. Answer questions in a way that reveals your experiences, opinions and thoughts. Don’t drift into discussions about the actions, behaviors and thoughts of others unless it is relevant to the answer. Even then, relate the details back to you and how you engaged in specific situations. Convey what you personally know and believe about the subject so that the interviewer clearly understands your ideas and thoughts as your own.

Share a story or example. Don’t just answer the question with data or facts, but instead, add a story or an example of how you were involved. Choose stories or examples that highlight the lessons your learned or the skills you developed while working with a team, project or individual assignment.

Emphasize results. Potential employers want to know that you can deliver results. Don’t just talk about the responsibilities of previous roles or the tasks you completed. Instead, focus on the results achieved through your responsibilities and execution of the tasks. Answer questions beginning with the results you achieved and then explain the steps you took, using examples, to achieve them.

The more skilled the interviewer, the more opportunities you will have to use these tactics in your interview. Prepare for the interview not by memorizing answers to common questions, but instead by adopting this framework that can be used for every question. Start with the end in mind. Make every answer personal. Share a story or example and provide the results of what you have accomplished.

If you follow these steps, you will stand out among other candidates and provide the interviewer exactly what they are looking for: an authentic candidate. It worked for Bree and I think it will work for you too as you crush your career.

If you would like to learn more about interviewing in today’s job market and how to Crush Your Career, pre-order my newest book, here:

Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job and Launch Your Future

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