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Advisors' Corner

Be a Memorable Interviewee

Tired of being rejected time and time again after the interview process? You’re not alone. Read more for three tips on how to leave a lasting impression and score your dream job by building a connection with the interviewer.

Congratulations! After searching long and hard, you finally landed that interview you were pining after. You’re ecstatic about the opportunity, but eventually the excitement dies down and the interview jitters start to kick in. You often make it to the interview stage, but for some reason have a hard time getting that offer. Often, that reason is failing to build a real connection with the interviewer. Just remember that everyone that has been invited for the interview is qualified, and so they’re really looking to see who fits best in their work culture and environment and who they build the best connection with. After all, it is in human nature to gravitate more towards those whom we form better connections with.

There are a few things you can do to make the most of your opportunity and really build a connection with the interviewers. Here they are:

1. Be clear about why YOU fit into the organization

First off, don’t think of an interview as a test. While it does seem like a test – since someone is asking you questions and judging if they are right or wrong – do not go into an interview with this mindset.

Instead of focusing on giving the right answer (which will make you sound like everyone else), focus on how you can incorporate yourself into your answer. Tell a story or share your passions, but don’t forget to relate it back to the functions of the job and/or directly to the company’s culture. This will genuinely set you apart from the rest of the candidates and make you memorable because your stories and answers were unique from the rest.

2. Show that you are listening to them

Asking questions at the end of the interview is a must, but you already know this. It is not enough to simply pose the questions, however. It is crucial to show that you have actually been listening and there are a few ways to prove it.

When you pose a question, listen carefully to the answer and perhaps ask a follow-up question or make a comment that shows you were listening. It is common to jump right to the next question out of nerves, but this is a great time to build a connection with the interviewer, especially if you were unable to during the interview.

Further, ask an unrehearsed question if you are able to. It is expected that you may have a pre-thought out question to ask at the end, but if you ask a question about something you learned about during the interview, this will show that you were truly listening and remembered important details.

These small things go a long way in building a connection with the interviewer. When you listen, and then respond, the interview feels more like a conversation (and less like a grilling session) and can increase the likelihood of feeling more connected.

3. Leave thoughtful follow-up thank you notes

While sending a follow-up thank you note will put you very much ahead of many who forgot to send one at all, there are a couple things you can do to go the extra mile.

Address something specific to the interview in your note. As a guide, ask yourself what you learned during the interview. Did you learn anything new? Was there a story that stood out to you? Something that you wanted to discuss further? If you use these questions to guide your message, it will add meaning to the generic thank you notes that most usually send. It will also reinforce the connection you built during the interview.

Be sure to send an email within 24 hours, but also send a handwritten note within a few days if you want to score some extra brownie points and stand out beyond other candidates.

Related: See here for three follow-up notes you shouldn’t send.

Remember, the interviewer clearly thinks you are qualified since they invited you for the interview in the first place, so just focus on how to best communicate your qualifications rather than just repeating them. Give real life examples of how you applied your skills and abilities. Tell stories rather than state facts as they tend to be more memorable. Good luck!