No doubt, millennials have had some bad rep in the last few years. TIME calls millennials the “Me Me Me Generation”. Millennials are stereotyped as lazy and entitled. These ideas stack up against them when they enter the job market and go through job interviews.
But, despite this, companies are looking for the right young people. They want people who can refresh tired agendas. They want people who are convincing. They want young, educated people who are full of ideas and energy but always learn and grow.
If you’re looking for a job, January is a great time to ramp up your efforts. Employers start the New Year with an appetite for fresh minds to revitalize their departments. They’re looking for young people who fit their company culture. But, at the same time, they want people who can bring new ideas and skills to the table. This is where the job interview process begins.
The job interview is typically the first face-to-face contact between job applicants and employers. Depending on your personality, the job interview is either a nerve-wracking nightmare or a chance for you to shine.
No matter your approach to job interviews, this is how you can stand out among a sea of applicants.
Be a sponge
Confidence is good. But people underestimate the power of active listening. Prove that you’re a great listener by being empathetic and humble. If you listen and ask questions, you will come across as mature and thoughtful. Be mindful of what your interviewer is saying, both with words and body language, and respond thoughtfully.
You can show that you’re listening actively by nodding, raising your eyebrows, and using phrases like “I hear you” and “I see where you’re coming from, but…”. Don’t be afraid to jump in when you have something truly valuable to add.
Being straightforward is a good way to show confidence. Don’t hide behind buzzwords – multitasker, team player, quick learner. Don’t hide behind skills – Microsoft Office Suite, Illustrator, AutoCAD. Other people applying for the same job will usually have almost identical skills to you.
Go above and beyond and speak like a human! Show off your hard and soft skills by demonstrating real life examples in which you used them. Don’t be afraid to talk about classroom experiences during a job interview.
Pack on adjacent skills
Learn impressive skills that add extra value to your role. If you’re a site engineer, learn project management. If you’re a graphic designer, learn to code. If you’re a marketer, learn data analysis. The list goes on. These are the skills that will make you stand out from other similar candidates.
Be a storyteller
Use the interview as an opportunity to tell a story about yourself. By nature, people enjoy narratives with strong hooks and exciting plot twists. You’re the good guy in this story. Tell your interviewers about your high and lows. Tell them about the conflicts you faced and how you resolved them. Most importantly, tell them why a job at their company is the logical next chapter for you and them.
If you’re using InternsME, why not add a video CV in which you weave your skills into a genuine story about your experiences? It might be intimidating being watched and evaluated by people through a screen, but it’s a great way for them to see you as a real person before the job interview.
Stalk the company
You might not have time to research all the companies you’re applying for. But if you’re called in for an interview, you have no excuse not to know every bit of information available about the company.
Look up their LinkedIn page. Look up the LinkedIn page of your interviewer. Read the key pages on the company website. If they have a physical location, visit that location. Read all press coverage of the company. If they’re on social media, make yourself familiar with recent developments. Get familiar with their projects, values, and key people. Get in touch with employees or former employees you know who can give you an idea about what to expect.
Once you know their company values, show them how you share the same values. People are drawn to those who seem like themselves.
Try to come to the interview with a few ideas you would implement in your work. Be sure to also comment on what you liked about what you saw or heard about the company.
As much as you’re the protagonist in your story, you should not make anyone else look bad. Don’t talk about your former employer negatively. Your interviewer won’t trust your discretion as an employee.
People appreciate gratitude. Say thank you at the beginning and end of the interview. But also let them know you really see them by sustaining eye contact.
It goes without saying that you should make an effort to be on time! Being late automatically says you don’t respect your interviewer’s time.
Show that you’re emotionally agile
Despite the fact that we hear this a lot, it’s not all about being positive all the time. It’s good to show excitement at the right time, laugh at the right time, and be serious at the right time. Displaying a variety of emotions shows people that you’re aware of your surroundings and respond well. It also shows that you have the psychological resources needed to deal with pressure.
According to Susan David, an expert in business and psychology, emotions should be treated as a resource. If you’re experiencing a hard situation – such as a job interview! – don’t respond to that directly. Reflect on how you’re feeling from an aerial view. Don’t shut down. Remember that it’s your goal to show you’re an emotionally mature candidate and stick to that goal.
Impressions matter. But so do skills. Give your interviewer a taste of your ideas and they will feel like they got a bang for their buck when they interviewed you. It will tell them that you won’t waste their time in the future.
The most important thing to remember before walking into a job interview is to be a real person. Don’t use borrowed phrases – speak for yourself. Tell a story about yourself that shows why you would be a great employee. Don’t be a robot. Be the best version of yourself.