How to Stand Out in a Behavioral Interview

Thank you for applying for the position! We would like to invite you in for a formal interview.

This is one of the best, but also one of most terrifying messages you can receive from an employer. This means they liked your resume and want to get to know you better, which is both exciting and nerve wracking. Interviews can be an extremely daunting task. Not only do you want to give a solid interview, but you also want make sure your interviewer remembers you. Fortunately, there are several little things you can do in order to stand out. Here are some tips on how to not only give a good interview, but also leave a lasting impression.

Tip #1 – Do Your Research

One important thing to do before your interview is research the company. This does not mean having a general understanding of what the company does. You should do a deep dive into the company, and there are several ways to do this. Cherie Bagwill, who currently works at Schrier Wirth Executive Search, suggests that in addition to researching the company’s website, interviewees read recent press releases or news about the company before their interview. Being able to talk about the company on a deeper level shows that you truly care about the job or internship and respect the time they have taken to meet with you.

You could also use LinkedIn to research the profile of the person /people you will be meeting with. You may find that you have more things in common than you expected. For instance,you might discover that the interviewer is an alum of the same school as your father. This will not only give you something to talk about, but also make you stand out. Ultimately, doing you research on an employer will give you more confidence in your interview, show that you care, and it will make you a more memorable candidate.

Tip #2 – First Impressions Matter

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why first impressions matter, especially when interviewing. Fortunately, there are several ways to make a good first impression.

For instance, do not be late. I repeat: DO NOT BE LATE. Although this seems pretty obvious, it does happen. Even if you think you planned the timing of your commute perfectly, something usually goes wrong. Instead, you should arrive earlier than expected. Celeste Wells, who is currently a Communication professor at BC but previously worked in Human Resources, suggests that you plan to get there 30 minutes prior to your interview. If you arrive early you can hang out in a nearby Starbucks or Dunkin beforehand and relax. Otherwise, arriving late will not only throw off your “interview game”, but also might lead the interviewer to think that this is typical behavior for you.

Also, remember to bring several copies of your resume. Typically, the interviewer will have it with them. However, if they don’t, how good will it look if you have one ready for them? This will show the employer that you are one step ahead and will lead the him to believe that you will be the same way while working for the company.

Handshakes and eye contact are extremely important when it comes to making a good first impression. Your wrist should be locked and your handshake should be firm when greeting your employer. You do not want to give too strong of a handshake, but you also don’t want it to be too flimsy. It needs to be just right. So, although it sounds silly, try practicing your handshake with friends or family. Also, it is important to make eye contact. Look your interviewer in the eye and smile when shaking hands. You should act happy to seem them. A good handshake and eye contact will make you seem like a confident candidate. There is a clear difference between someone who walks in a room confidently versus someone who walks in nervously. Be the confident one.

Tip #3 – Your Emotions Translate

Typically, when interviewing, candidates are noticeably anxious, worried, and/or uncomfortable.  These nerves translate to the hiring manager very quickly. Try not to let this happen. According to Celeste Wells, her most successful interviews happened when the candidate seemed happy to see her, excited to talk, or just generally at ease the minute he or she entered the room.  Although this may seem hard to accomplish, it can be done.

Celeste Wells offers this piece of advice:

“Instead of walking into the interview thinking ‘I hope I don’t screw this up; I want this job sooo bad; I hope they don’t see how nervous I am!’, actually change the script in your head!  From the moment you start your commute to the company, start thinking ‘I am a strong fit for this job; I really love this company’s mission; the people I interview with are just cool people that want to hear about me!’ I know it may be hard initially because most students I know have trained themselves to beat themselves mercilessly about their perceived lack of qualities (which, not coincidentally, is usually completely false).  If you take it seriously, practicing this type of language reorientation can change the energy you bring into a room. Hiring managers want to hire people that are easy to get along with, that are confident, and that are friendly. Show them that you are these things by starting to believe them yourself.”

Tip #4 — Ask Good Questions

Towards the end of the interview, an employer will almost always ask if you have any questions. You should ALWAYS have questions, and they should be GOOD questions. For instance, do not ask, “How long are the hours?” This gives an immediate impression that you do not want to work hard. Instead, ask questions like, “what is a typical day like?” Or, “what is the structure of the company.”. Cherie Bagwill suggests asking questions that show you have an interest as opposed to questions that revolve around you. We forget that as college students we have been asking what we can do to further ourselves for the past four years. Now, we need to think about what we can do for the company.

Tip #5 — Don’t Forget Your Manners

After the interview, you should ALWAYS thank the employer. There are many ways to do this. Typically, you can send a quick thank you email. However, Celeste Wells suggests that sending a handwritten thank you note doesn’t hurt. Nowadays, people usually do not take the time to hand write thank you letters. Therefore, this demonstrates thoughtfulness which will make you stand out to your interviewer.

Whether you decide to send an email or write a thank you note, it is important to remember to be respectful of their time by not making your thank you too long. Keep it short. Also, it might be beneficial to reference something memorable that happened during an interview. This will help you stand out among other candidates. However, only do so if it works. Do not force it. Otherwise, it might seem random and unrelated.

Ultimately, giving solid answers during an interview without making a mistake is not enough to get hired. If you want the job or internship, you need to stand out. And, although this seems like a difficult task—it is possible.

—By Courtney Schroeder, MCAS ’19

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