10 Things You Can Do To Really Impress An Interviewer

10 Things You Can Do To Really Impress An Interviewer

When it's a job you really want, how well you prepare for the interview could prove a life-changing task. We asked ten career experts exactly what it is they're looking for, and how candidates can go above and beyond to impress them. Here’s what you can do, both beforehand and on the big day, to make sure you’re remembered…

1. Take Control

“Take control of the interview and close it on your terms. This is especially impressive in roles such as sales and marketing. Posing a question that asks if you have demonstrated the skills and attributes, they’re looking for allows the interviewer to either ask further questions to identify certain points and skills or for you to flag if you think you have missed anything. As an interviewer myself, this is something that really impresses me and makes candidates stand out.” – Mel Barclay, Career Coach at Lee Hecht Harrison Penna

2. Do Your Research

"Ultimately, an interview is about standing out from the crowd, therefore, it’s critical that you stand out for the right reasons. If there was only one piece of advice I could give, it would be to make sure you do your homework on the company and don’t limit it to a quick look at their website. The individual you’re meeting will more often than not be very passionate about the business and it’s important you replicate that passion through the research you’ve done.
“If the company is a retailer, make sure you visit a store; if they’re a housebuilder, visit a local development – the list of research opportunities is endless. In addition, the internet is a friend, do a thorough search of recent news and the history of the company you’re looking to join as large or small the information is out there. The best person doesn’t always get the job – it’s often the best prepared who’ll be hired."  – James Calder, CEO of Distinct Recruitment

3. Focus On Your Development

“I love when candidates ask the following question: ‘If I was hired for this role, what would a successful first year look like to you? What are the key things you’d like to see me achieve?’

“This question impresses me for a few reasons. It shows me that the interviewee is confident in their ability to get the job, and is genuinely interested not only in their own development, but in helping me and my team succeed. Hiring new employees costs in both time and money, so I need to make sure whoever I hire will be as committed to solving our challenges and achieving our department’s goals as I am.” – Amanda Augustine, Career Expert at TopCV

4. Take It Seriously

“Specific preparation is great – it shows that they care enough about the role to do additional research that others may overlook, and also that they’re the kind of person that is willing to go the extra mile. For example, a few years back we interviewed someone for a junior role, but they treated it with the seriousness of someone applying for an CEO role. They called up prior and asked ‘How can I better prepare myself for this?’ and the humility and confidence to ask a question like that went a long way in making them stand out against other applicants.” – Toby Dean, Senior SEO Manager at Add People  

5. Radiate Positivity

“Positivity is one of the key attributes that I want to see in a potential colleague. I don’t mean being saccharine sweet or laughing at my unfunny jokes, it’s about having that naturally positive outlook. Candidates might not have 100% of the skills needed for a role, but their CV has done enough to take them to interview stage. During the interview I want to be impressed with their attitude to learning, convinced that they’re genuinely interested in advancing their knowledge and skills with us, and sure of their naturally friendly and approachable demeanour. I want to leave the interview knowing that they would fit with the rest of my great team.” – Kirsten Doddy, Global Head of Marketing & Communications at Anthesis

6. Say Something Different

"During an interview, I’ll always say, ‘I’ve read your CV, now tell me about yourself.’ Invariably, the candidate always starts to list off education and previous work experience as if by rote. What really impresses me is when the candidate has something interesting to say about themselves that gives insight into who they are as a person. This could be an interesting hobby, a fun anecdote or anything that conveys authenticity. We look to employ individuals who are confident in their own skin and who are able to open up about themselves easily." – Ed Sutcliffe, Director of MET Marketing  

7. Be Truly Passionate

“When I was the owner of a high-calibre documentary production company, I always asked the question, ‘What were the last two documentaries you watched?’ Simple and straightforward yes, but it would stun me the amount of people would come for internships and big roles with us who would then wax lyrical about films, dramas – in fact, anything and everything except documentaries. I found it exasperating – why would I want to employ anyone who didn’t have a profound and visceral passion for the work they were going to be doing? And for those who told me what documentaries they had viewed, their answers became the springboard to exploring their attitudes on subject matter, production capabilities and new ideas.” – Erica Wolfe-Murray, business & innovation expert

8. Be A Good Listener

“It’s underrated, but being a good listener – prob one of the things I look out for most actually… I know it’s not something to note as ‘impressive’ but you can tell who actively listens and who just hears what you are saying; there’s a difference. And a good handshake – that’s very revealing about someone.” – Emily Webb, HR Advisor at Liberty Marketing  

9. Show Clarity, Conviction & Humility

“At Elixirr, I have been fortunate to work in the People industry for the past 20 years and in that time have conservatively sat face to face, one on one, with over 5,000 people. Every encounter is unique and interesting while some are more memorable than others because of the impression that individual leaves on me. 
“The people I am impressed by have a clarity of communication that demonstrates deep understanding, organised thinking and an emotional intelligence to allow them to shape and execute their vision. I view conviction as the product of ambition, confidence and a self-awareness that someone knows what they want or is aware of what they are good at and how they will make a difference. The final element, the humility comes across to me as a sense of likeability or accessibility that gets you about wanting to work with the individual.  When combined this makes for a great impression.” – Steve Leeson, Talent & HR Principal at Elixirr

10. Stay Calm

"We find that candidates tend to impress the most when they are calm and collected. Interviewers often ask thought-provoking questions like, 'How many jellybeans can you fit into a UK phone box?' or 'How many Uber drivers are there in London?' The trick is to take a step back and apply logic.
"Remaining calm at a time of intense pressure is admirable and is sure to impress your prospective employer. It showcases your skill set and personality which, in the start-up world in particular, is arguably just an important as your experience." – Toby Levy, Head of Business Development & Partnerships at BrighterBox  

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