How to Stand Out During In-Person Interviews

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 20, 2017

Whether you are introverted, extroverted, or a mix of both, in-person interviews are hard to master for many. There are numerous factors that can impact your in-person interview: your attire, your first impression, the firmness of your handshake, your behavior during the interview, and much more.

While it will be hard to have the perfect interview every time, consider the following tips to stand out in your next in-person interview, getting yourself one step closer to employment.

Dress for the job 

Sometimes interviewers will leave you in the dark on what the interview’s dress code is, leaving you wondering what would be considered underdressed or overdressed to your employer. Remember that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed if it does end up being a casual interview. Putting effort into every aspect of your interview, even your interview attire, shows that you are taking the opportunity seriously from the start even if it’s just a job interview with no guaranteed job offer.

Aim for business casual when the attire isn’t already established. Go for a nice button-up or blouse, slacks, and shoes that aren’t beat-up sneakers or open-toe sandals.

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Give off good energy 

While interviewers can certainly pick-up your personality over the phone or over a Skype interview, in-person interviews allow them to study you very closely. The tone of your voice and tone, movement, and facial expressions all tie in together to make the interviewer’s impression of you. That being said, you need to be aware of how you are reacting to the interviewer and what your body language could possibly say about you.

If you know that your natural facial expression tends to come off as bored or annoyed, make an effort to look more engaged throughout the interview. Show that you are interested by nodding along and smiling when it’s applicable and won’t seem forced. At the same time, you do not want to come off as overly excited or happy and appear as if you are trying too hard to kiss up or fake a personality that you really don’t have.

Don’t slouch in your chair or lean your head on your hand as you would if you were bored in class, as these are signs that can tell your interviewer that you are disinterested or not taking the interview seriously.

Prepare yourself for some “hard” or “strange” questions

With interviews conducted over the phone, you can get by with notes on the company or your experience by your side, referring to them when you start drawing up blanks when asking questions. However, in in-person interviews, taking out a piece of paper when asked a question you can’t answer isn’t exactly acceptable. Instead, try to prepare yourself before going into the interview.

This preparation can be going through your application and resume again or doing research on the company and position you are applying for. They can ask you why you wanted to apply with this specific company or why you think you would fit this company specifically. If you’re improvising, you’ll most likely answer with something general like you wanted to take the opportunity to improve your skills or you wanted a job in that particular field.

Do your research beforehand, learn the company values and their mission statement, their current projects, etc. Bringing these up in the interviews as points of interest shows the interviewer that you are interested in the company, even before you are properly involved with them. Employers will want employees that take a genuine interest in the company and it will make you stand out among other applicants that just want a job, rather than a place in the company.

Many interviews also include one or two “strange” questions. These questions are designed to test your creativity when it comes to problem-solving and planning. They can range from listing out uses for a pencil other than as a writing instrument or trying to advertise a common object on the spot. They are meant to be curveballs, and when you are asked you may find yourself stumbling through an answer.

First, know that it’s okay to take time to process the question and articulate your answer. Let the interviewer know you need a few moments by saying something along the lines of “Is it okay if I take a minute to articulate my answer?” By taking that moment to think over your answer, you’re saving both you and the interviewer’s time that would be wasted from you thinking out your answer out loud and getting both of you confused.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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