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Separate yourself from the competition with these 10 Interviewing tips!

No matter where you are in your career, composing a strong resume is vital to improving your chances at landing your dream job. But how can you separate yourself from the other candidates and rise to the top of that resume pile?

Here are our top 10 tips for helping you (and your resume!) stand out.

Explain why you chose your career path

Employers want to know that a potential new hire is enthusiastic about their work and their industry. Be ready to talk about your reasons for choosing your career path, and explain your personal connection to the role or industry. If there are any gaps on your resume, or periods of time in which you were working in another field, be prepared to explain those as well and offer reasons why that time was well-spent or beneficial to you now.

Have a vision

These days, employers and job seekers alike are interested in growing with one another, forging successful, long-term careers. Prep for questions about your future by envisioning your ideal career path.

You may choose to frame your answer in the context of successfully attaining the position for which you’re interviewing (“As a project manager at this agency, I’d focus on forging strong client relationships that can develop with me as I advance. In the next ten years, I see myself in a leadership role, where I’d prioritize mentorship of newer industry professionals,”) or give a more general outlook of your future plans (“I’d like to land with a company that invests in its employees through continued training opportunities, because my goal is to grow my skills within an organization and contribute to their culture of development by prioritizing mentorship in an eventual leadership position.”)

Regardless of how you choose to frame your vision for your career path, you should come prepared to share examples of your performance, skill set, and/or work. Be sure that your examples demonstrate the ways in which you are different from typical applicants on the same career trajectory. If you have a unique POV for someone in your industry, now’s the time to share it!

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Describe why you were hired

It’s reassuring for an employer to know that a potential new hire has worked for reputable companies in the past—but it’s even better to know the specific value those previous hiring managers saw in that individual and wanted for their team.

For each of your previous positions, be prepared to describe why you were brought on board. Maybe you had the right combination of skills for their unique environment (“The company needed a talented web designer that also had experience in event planning,”) or perhaps you were the answer to a tricky problem (“They also needed someone with very high-level web coding skills, but those applicants are in high demand. Luckily, I had just left a coding position in search of an opportunity with more responsibility and growth opportunities, so I was available.”)

Describe your job responsibilities well

It’s important that, as you talk through your previous roles, you describe your job responsibilities thoroughly and accurately — that means no “plussing up” a lackluster position or your accomplishments therein.

(Spoiler alert: In our next tip, we’re going to tell you to brag about your accomplishments, but nobody likes an embellisher, and dishonesty is a disqualifying trait when it’s uncovered in an interview. Talk about embarrassing!)

What you can do is present your work history and past responsibilities honestly, and in cases where there’s few significant accomplishments to talk about, elaborate on what you learned from that experience. Sure, maybe you didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize bagging groceries at the corner store, but we bet you learned about attention to detail and customer service, so champion those lessons!

And to that end: Don’t undersell your accomplishments, either. Here comes that next tip we mentioned . . .

Be prepared to brag (just a little!)

You’re pretty awesome. Your accomplishments are pretty awesome. So why aren’t you telling employers about you and your awesome track record? For each previous position, identify your major accomplishments and be prepared to talk about them, including your role in the project, your responsibilities, and the positive outcomes of your involvement. Really hammer home how indispensable you were to the ultimate success of the project and why. This is your time to shine, after all!


Explain your winning strategy

Speaking of positive outcomes, we’re not done with your awesome accomplishments just yet. To quote Star Trek, “context is for kings.” While detailing your specific contributions is important, you’ll want to contextualize your victories in the macro sense, too. Talk about the company’s reasons behind spearheading that particular project, including the project’s goals and how they fit into the company’s larger business goals overall. Explain why you were the right person to fulfill your role on the project, and emphasize the ways in which your unique talents and skill set contributed to the success of the project. Employers want to see that you’re more than an order-taker — so show them that you’re capable, strategic in the way you take on major responsibilities, and that your approach pays off.

Be prepared to answer questions about your work history—even the less-than-fun parts.

You should go into each interview ready to respond to questions about why you left each of your previous positions. Regardless of the circumstances of your departure from those jobs, it’s important to keep your answers short and professional.

“I was ready for a new opportunity” is appropriate for positions that you left in order to seek or accept another job; “It wasn’t a good fit for me” is appropriate in situations where you were let go — but you should be prepared to elaborate succinctly and professionally when pressed. Consider the reasons behind leaving each position and develop a clear, high-level response, like “My manager and I had very different communication styles, and ultimately we didn’t gel,” or “I was interested in a position with more available hours that could provide me benefits.”

Highlight your accumulated experience

If you’ve worked in a particular industry for a significant amount of time — say, five years of experience in communications or fifteen years in merchandising — be sure that tenure is called out on both your resume and in your interview. But even if you haven’t worked in your target industry for decades, your accumulated work experience is still an important talking point for your interview. How long you’ve worked in a field doesn’t matter as much as what you’ve done with the experience you do have.

As you describe your work history, be sure to underline what you took away from each previous position, whether you strengthened a skill set, learned a new skill, or made meaningful connections. The pieces of wisdom you gleaned from one experience should impact the way you describe the next: “Coming from my previous position, which really exercised my interpersonal skills and helped build my confidence interfacing with customers, I found myself set up for success at my next role in direct sales.”

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Be yourself

No, really! It may seem like boilerplate advice, but it’s a cliché for a reason: Showing your personality in your job interviews is a critical part of ultimately scoring the job. Sure, your future employer won’t necessarily see all the same facets of you as, say, your BFFs from college, but there’s no reason to neuter every aspect of your personality in the name of seeming “professional.” Plenty of successful business professionals also demonstrate their intellect, sense of humor, interests, and other traits in an office-appropriate manner. Just remember to keep all conversations safe-for-work — you want to be memorable in a good way, not in a “the hiring manager grimaces when she sees you in public” sort of way.

Explain your brain

In any job interview, employers are looking to understand what kind of worker you are, how you work, and what they can do to elicit the best work from you. Make their detective work easy by precisely describing how your brain works and what motivates you. You may talk about your communication style, left brain vs. right brain, your general approach to task lists, etc. — whatever information you think best illustrates your work style and motivation is great information to share!

Looking for more job interview tips?

Following these 10 tips can help you effectively tell your story and lead you to job interview success! To explore more information regarding resumes, job interviews and career advice, please visit the job seekers resource page at