Stand Out From the Crowd by Honing Your Interview Skills

John Krautzel
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In 2017, the highly competitive job market for people's skills and experience means that standing out from the crowd is a must for anyone who wants a prime position with a great employer. You earned the degree and networked your way to getting a hiring manager's attention. Acing the job interview represents the final step. Consider these tips and tricks to leap ahead of the rest of the candidates in the pool.

The Simple Stuff

Little things go a long way for a job interview. Dress one notch above the office dress code. For example, if everyone dresses business casual on an everyday basis, go for business formal attire. Factory workers can probably go for business casual attire.

Arrive to the interview five to 10 minutes early. While you're sitting there, remember to do some deep breathing exercises to relax. Engage in conversation with anyone who walks by because those people can give you clues about the position and the company culture.

Leave your soda, latte, cappuccino or whatever drink you brought with you in your car. An interview room is no place for a drink container that might spill. Turn off your smartphone and don't even think about grabbing for it during your job interview. Your focus for the next 30 minutes is on the people in front of you as opposed to the latest Facebook post from a friend or text.


Aside from the little things, a sunny attitude brings a positive tone to the job interview. Recruiters and hiring managers look for people with bright attitudes who bring a positive demeanor to every talking point. Express your enthusiasm to work for the company by giving emotional reasons for meshing with the company culture. For example, maybe you came across a company's product as a younger person and it really resonated with you to the point that you changed your life in a positive way. Practice showing enthusiasm by looking at your facial expressions in the mirror to see what others see during your interview.

Respect for everyone in the process goes a long way to landing a job interview. Yes, you have several steps to get through just to come face to face with your future boss, but patience and respecting the employer's process indicates you're an agreeable co-worker who plays by the rules.

Your Resume

Polish your resume and update your hard skills. Even if you connect with someone at the company as part of your network, you still need a dynamite resume that lists your qualifications, skills and experience so your hiring manager gets an idea if you're the perfect fit for the position. Hard skills get you to the interview, but your soft skills win the interview. That's why you need great interpersonal skills, a good attitude and an emotional connection with others in the room. Think of the interview as your final boss battle at the end of the level of a video game.

Your job interview is one of many important steps in your job hunt. In a highly competitive job market, every detail counts as you try to win the day against candidates who have similar qualifications to yours.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. I hear your pain and wish there was a way that I could change things. Tweet the Pres. Tell him what you are going through. See if you can't get pressure from the top down instead of the bottom up. There has to be publicity on this problem with ageism. Not just hiding in the dark and hoping no one will notice that you aren't working. It needs to be brought out into the light. @Carol Bergschneider it is probably not illegal for companies to ask for your HS and college grad dates. Ii don't think that part has ever been illegal and yes it is how they get around it. Sad but true. So bring it out into the light. @Jim M. you are a great communicator. Find a way to get this issue of ageism back out into the open again. The President's platform was on jobs, jobs, jobs. Maybe now is the time to take him to task. We all know why companies turn away from older people and that's because they don't want to pay us what we are worth. This truly needs to change.

  • Mary D.
    Mary D.

    Yes most companies are discriminating against people over 40 or 45. Hit 55 and you are completely doomed. Will not get hired. Not even a notice you're not hired!

  • Jim M.
    Jim M.

    All great comments! At 55 I find that a lifetime of experience, education and more importantly - life experience - amount to NOTHING in my job search. I am being overlooked in favor of people half my age, considerably less experience, and a poor work ethic. My heart breaks as these should be the best years of my career, yet after two downsizings I am left without work and finding it impossible to even get an interview. I am a confident and articulate communicator, but never gets the chance to demonstrate them. What is there for us to do? Seriously, how can you make an inroad in an era where youth is far more valued than experience/insight?

  • Darlene M.
    Darlene M.

    I'm having the ageism problems also. I fill out many applications and they don't ask your age but your graduation date. I'm 62 but willing and able to work as hard if not harder than the youngsters they do hire. I show up to work and take my job serious. However I'm still getting kicked to the curb. Feeling very disappointed.


    Good comments from everyone about "ageism" and having to put in graduation dates, but I think it's not legal for employers to ask that anymore. If those application fields online don't have the 'required' asterisks, leave them blank.

  • april c.
    april c.

    That is so true, about ageism. I honestly think it is a problem for us over 50 but under 60.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Lisa A it is true that many applications ask for the years we graduated from HS. You know what is really sad? Is when you scroll down the list of dates only to find out that it stops around 1980 so that you can't even apply!!!! That is what upsets me. Not sure who decided that 50 was the new 65! But keep trying. Maybe school will help but it depends upon the field. And honestly, I don't think that retail is dying. Yes, some of the more well known anchor stores are shutting down - like Macy's, Penney's, Sears and so on but others are popping up. Amazon is even looking at store fronts - brick and mortar. And I think that gradually you will see new Penney's and Macy's, etc. stores come back but they just will not look the way that they do today. I think that they will be smaller - more streamlined for today's consumer. The days of just wondering up and down the aisles are pretty much over, too. People want to get in and get out instead of enjoying the excursion. So I truly do think that some of our favorites will return - just with a different look. All the best in school!

  • Cynthia Maria DiBiasio
    Cynthia Maria DiBiasio

    Amen to that! When I'm asked for year dates I'm sunk!! Ageism is alive and thriving people πŸ™‡πŸΌπŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

  • Lisa A.
    Lisa A.

    I'm realizing how difficult it is for those of us 50+ to even get through the door to get an interview. What relevance is the year I graduated high school-it was literally a different era, but most applications I fill out (especially online) won't let me skip it. It's a gatekeeper, that's all. And my experience is in a dying field-retail. It looks like school is going to be my best option.

  • PAUL M.
    PAUL M.

    show me who honestly will hire a 50plus male with years of experience and I'll take you out for dinner at a fine eating establishment

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jan D. thanks for your comment. So sorry to hear that. Is it just in your industry? We get emails and calls every day about more senior job seekers finding jobs. You mentioned retiring? You mean retiring as in receiving a pension? If that would be the case, then you could easily just look for temporary work or even part-time work and it should be enough to keep your head above water. Question remains - why are they getting fired? If it's because of their age, they have a case for ageism and should hire a lawyer and get started on a lawsuit. If several are being fired by the same company, they could band together and have one huge lawsuit. If they can get social media behind them, they might just be able to win a good enough lawsuit that it will make other companies think twice.

  • Jan D.
    Jan D.

    Stand out? I'm doomed. Folks are firing and retiring people my age. 57 and dead employment wise!

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