So, you've made it over the first hurdle and you've been offered an interview for a job you really want. You're feeling confident - your CV or application form must have impressed them, right? You might even feel excited, but understandably a little bit apprehensive or nervous too.
Whatever your feelings, you know that the hard work starts now. You've got to research the role and business, Google like mad and look at all their social media outlets, hunt out recent press releases about the company and the industry you're wanting to work in, speak to any existing employees that you know... you know the drill.
But have you thought about the impression you're going to make? You know that loads of other candidates are going to be interviewed for the role - so how are you going to make yourself truly memorable and really stand out from the crowd?
Sometimes we become so caught up in the preparation, knowing the 'facts' about our CV and the organisation, that we don't think about some of the subtler points of the interview process.
An interview shouldn't be thought of with terrifying words like 'grilling' and 'interrogation' - it's a conversation. It's a chance for you to showcase your skills, your personality and to make a good impression.
It's a given that you need to:
* look the part - smart and well-groomed;
* have a firm handshake;
* be positive about the role;
* be engaged and interested throughout the interview, and
* deliver good responses to the questions.
But there is another tactic you can use to make yourself memorable and really stand out.
It's a simple method that plays to the fact that you're having a conversation and you know your stuff. Check out the parts in bold for this neat little interview trick...
Here's an example:
Interviewer: "So, can you tell me a little about yourself?"
Candidate: Of course. I studied economics at university, which I loved, and now that I have a few years' experience under my belt, I'm ready for the next challenge. But can I just recap on the role a little bit? Am I right in thinking that you're looking for an operations manager with risk management experience, perhaps even audit experience to strengthen risk management policies and procedures within operations?"
Interviewer: "Yes that's a pretty good summary. In the past we have recruited operations professionals and relied on internal audit and managers to identify gaps in our procedures."
Candidate: "I see. It sounds like going forward you'd like to have more team members who have a deep understanding of both operations and risk management. Existing team members may need to be trained as well, then, to ensure that they're up-to-speed with the new recruits and that no one gets left behind. In previous roles, I have been involved in risk management training, identifying the subject, creating a plan and designing the training material."
Can you see what's just happened in this example from a fictional interview?
* Rather than waiting to be asked about what they understand about the role, which most people do in an interview - the candidate has spoken up first in a really proactive way that shows a perfect understanding of what the hirer wants.
* They've shown that they've gone through the pre-interview drill - done the research, they know the facts about the role and they have a good handle on it.
* They've demonstrated that they've thought about what the role encompasses and what will be needed in the team in the future.
All of this mean that this candidate will stand out from the crowd - they've spoken up, demonstrated their research, showcased their foresight and understanding.
As the candidate, you must be prepared to elaborate on your interjection - be prepared with more examples and insight to demonstrate more about why you're the person for the job.
This short scenario also allows you to demonstrate your self-assurance, and interviewers like people who are - not arrogant, but assertive and full of conviction.
You've broken the mould and tried a different approach which shows confidence and that makes people feel secure that someone's in control. Interviewers know that buoyant feeling is infectious and can spread within a team and lead to great results.
There are many ways that you can be memorable at an interview, some of which are certainly not recommended - use your imagination! - but this is a great example of how to create a good impression in a positive, professional way.