How to Stand Out in a Job Interview [11 Ways]

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When you’re looking for a job, your only job is to apply for relevant positions. But once you start getting calls, things get complicated. What are you supposed to do? How can you position yourself as more employable than other candidates? One of the best ways to be considered more favorably is to stand apart memorably.

To stand out in a job interview, you must have a positive attitude, open body language, and a curious attitude. As long as you disrupt the negative expectations that interviewers have of candidates by being more engaging and giving answers with substance, you will stand apart in a positive way.

In this article, you will learn 11 ways to stand out from other candidates in a job interview, including the nine ways to be memorable. Each method of standing out is accompanied by a 1 to 10 rating, with 10 being the most memorable and 1 being the least likely to make you stand out. But before we explore the specific ways, we must address why standing out is worth the effort in the first place.

Why Standing Out During a Job Interview Is Important

Standing out during a job interview is essential because being different makes you memorable. Since our brains are wired to detect what doesn’t fit a pattern, we focus on whatever stands apart from the norm. That said, you should not stand out negatively as that makes recruiters remember not to call you back.

You’ll be remembered for the ways in which you stood out in an interview. For a long time, candidates who stood out because of their race or gender were singled out for dismissal. Since the contrast bias has worked long enough against interviewees, it is important that they take control and intentionally design ways to stand apart that increase their odds of success.

11 Ways to Stand Out in a Job Interview

As a rule of thumb, anything you do that meets one of the two conditions below will make you stand out positively:

  • Your action is the opposite of a negative norm 
  • Your action exceeds the positive expectations dictated by the norm

The way you stand out is directed by the ways in which everyone else fits in. There are positive expectations as well as negative ones, set up entirely by the interviewer’s experience. Aggregating the common takeaways from recruiters’ rants and reviews, we have singled out 11 ways in which you can exceed their positive expectations or disrupt their negative ones.

1. Nailing the Initial Greeting and Handshake

Stand Out Rating: 6/10 

While not every candidate has a weak handshake, most are too nervous to lean into their most confident greeting. There will be other candidates who nail the initial greeting as well. Even though making a great first impression will not make you the only one that stands apart, it will set you up for success and make you more memorable than average.

Give a firm handshake without trying to crush the other party’s palm. Be mindful of the strength gap if the interviewer is older than you or has a lower body weight. You do not want the handshake to be negative because of its meekness or strength. 

More important than the handshake is how you handle the initial greeting. You fit into a fairly predictable pattern if you mentally position the interviewer as an examiner. But if you treat them as someone you’re visiting to have a discussion with, you seem closer to a colleague than a candidate.

2. Having a Positive and Infectious Attitude

Stand Out Rating: 8/10

This is one of the simplest ways to stand out, and it makes you quite memorable because very few candidates can pull off such an attitude. This is mainly because being a job-seeker is not the most positive spot for most people. If you mentally program yourself to assume you have the job and are grateful for it, the internal positivity that comes from this will be externally obvious and contagious.

3. Grooming and Appearance

Stand Out Rating: 7/10

Grooming is something that most job seekers are told about, which is why the candidate pool will have few people who are dressed horribly. However, very few candidates will put in the extra effort to look well put together. From slacks under suits to a necktie hanging out of a suit vest, recruiters have seen it all. If the job interview is not for a creative role, wear formals and make sure they fit.

4. Showing Positive Body Language

Stand Out Rating: 9/10

Most candidates shrink inwards or get too still. Thanks to mirror neurons, this demeanor makes the interviewer just as uncomfortable as the candidate. When you walk in with open body language and are reasonably relaxed, the interviewers are grateful and remember you for giving them a break.

5. Smile While Speaking and Have Personality

Stand Out Rating: 8/10

Having a personality is a catch-all solution for job interviews, but it is something that makes you unmistakably different from everyone else. Express aspects of your personality that usually get compliments so you can be remembered positively.

6. Providing Comprehensive Answers

Stand Out Rating: 7/10

Some candidates give very short answers, and others go on long rants that have multiple tangents. Both of those are sizeable pools, so when you give well-informed, too-the-point, yet comprehensive answers, you stand out in a way very few candidates can pull off.

7. Speaking With Conviction

Stand Out Rating: 9/10

Unless you’re interviewing for a senior management position, most competing candidates will not express themselves with conviction. Speaking with certainty and being sold on your answers and candidacy will reflect in how you answer questions. It will also make you different from most candidates in a positive way.

8. Embed Value in Your Answers

Stand Out Rating: 8/10

When candidates are asked standard interview questions, they give safe answers. Instead of asking yourself, “what do they want me to say,” ask yourself, “how can I showcase my value while answering their question?” You can stand out by giving answers that clearly show you can be valuable to the company.

9. Using the Interviewers’ Names

Stand Out Rating: 10/10

If you’ve been introduced to people in social settings, you know how easy it is to forget names. This sets up a very low expectation when it comes to remembering names. And given that during the interviews, people shy away from using interviewers’ names, you can stand apart by showing that you remember your interviewers’ names by using them whenever it is appropriate.

10. Asking Thoughtful Questions

Stand Out Rating: 10/10

Most candidates treat interviews as a strictly one-way road to scoring a job or getting rejected. When you do not assume a quiz format and ask questions throughout the interview, you show that you’re unlike other candidates. Be curious throughout instead of preparing questions that make you sound “smart” and bombarding the interviewer at the end.

11. Coming With a Few Printed Resumes on Quality Paper

Stand Out Rating: 9/10

Finally, you can showcase your professionalism and stand out with one move: bringing along printed copies of your resume. You should carry the resume copies in a high-quality document holder or folder, though. This can also indicate that you have other options because carrying multiple resumes can imply that you have other appointments.

Final Thoughts

Standing out in an employable way is your only job in a job interview. And to do so, you must disrupt the negative cliches associated with candidates within your field and exceed positive expectations that your resume sets up. The 11 ways to stand out in a job interview listed in this post are the sum total of the broadest ways in which a candidate interviewing for almost any role can stand out.