Interviewing Skills: How to Stand Out

Lesson 4: How to Stand Out


How to stand out

If you've ever done a web search for advice or tips on how to nail every step of the interview process, you've probably heard this before: make yourself stand out. This is good advice, and when employers are interviewing several people for one position, they are looking for one candidate who "stands out."

But the tip itself is a little vague, and if you don't carefully consider the way in which you plan on making yourself stand out, it may actually hurt your chances of getting a job. So here's some advice on post-interview etiquette, as well as a few ways to help you stand out in the right way.

  • When you make contact with a potential employer or someone doing recruiting on behalf of an employer, it's good practice to thank that person for their time and attention. This shouldn't be anything very long—just a brief email which demonstrates that you're really interested in pursuing this job opportunity. Make sure you don't wait any longer than a few hours. 

brief thank you email using Gmail
  • If it's a position you want very badly, you may be thinking, Enthusiasm? No problem! I've got plenty of that! But be careful, because going over the top with follow-ups could end up hurting you in the long run. For instance, if you feel the urge to call the interviewer personally to tell them exactly how much you want the position, avoid doing so. You also don't want to "butter them up" by sending silly cards, balloons, or food. They will recognize that you're trying to win them over. 

What to do if you haven't heard back

Let's say the interview goes well, you follow up promptly with a thank you email, and it's been a few days or a few weeks since you've heard back from the person who interviewed you. What now? A lot of people get nervous about checking back with an interviewer because they don't want to seem pushy or annoying. Truth is, it's okay to check in.

  • One way to take the guessing out of how long you should wait before you check in is by asking what the next steps are following the interview. It is perfectly fair to ask an interviewer what to expect after your interview is over. They should usually be able to give you a good idea of when you'll hear back from them about the job, whether you got it or not. 
  • Say you have an interview, and when you ask what the next steps are, the recruiter says you should hear back from them in about a week. If it's day 9 and you haven't heard anything, it's okay to reach out to that person. Just like the thank you email, keep it polite and brief. For example: "Hi Jeremy, I hope your week is going well. I was wondering if you have made any decisions regarding the store manager position, or if there was any other information I could provide." 
  • What if you forgot to ask about the next steps? How long should you wait before contacting them? In general, waiting a week or two before contacting an interviewer is perfectly acceptable.