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How to Stand Out in an Interview (but not in a good way)

How to Stand Out in an Interview (but not in a good way)

When you score an interview, either with a recruiter or directly with a client, you know that first impressions are critical.  You know that you need to stand out so the interviewer remembers who you are and immediately puts you above all other applicants.  The reality about first impressions, though, is that while some can help you differentiate yourself for the better, others can immediately send you to the bottom of the pile.

There are many interview horror stories, from stalking the CEO to hitting on the hiring manager.  Most people have common sense and would never do things like this, but a more subtle way to create a negative first impression is to simply lack in some common recruiter expectations.  A few weeks ago, Cameron McCallum, Eagle’s Edmonton Branch Manager, wrote a post about common expectations staffing agencies have of the best contractors.  When even the greatest professionals don’t meet these standards, it’s easy for them to fall to the bottom of the list.  The same holds true for recruiters in interviews.  They have a set of expectations for interviews.  Meeting those expectations will gain you average rating and then give you the opportunity to impress. Failing to meet expectations, though, will immediately earn you a negative rating in the recruiter’s mind.

So, what’s the simplest way to get yourself off on the wrong foot?  Arrive late or unprepared! A recent survey of Eagle’s Recruiters revealed that independent contractors are almost always prepared and very rarely arrive to an interview late.  If you’re a contractor who recently interviewed at Eagle, you can give yourself a pat on the back now, because you contributed to this statistic.  If you’re preparing for an interview anywhere, take note of this fact.

Recruiters have come to expect that contractors will be punctual and organized for an interview.  If you’re neither, or lack just one of those two traits, you will immediately stand out, but not in a good way. In fact, in the same survey, one in five of Eagle’s Recruiters pointed out that being punctual is among the top three qualities that influence their impression of a candidate, and over half of them consider preparedness as a major factor in how they judge you.

How can you ensure you don’t blow this first impression? Being on time is just a matter of taking measures to arrive a little earlier than the scheduled interview time – set alarms, check traffic, and plan where you’re going.  Being prepared can be a bit more subjective, depending on what the recruiter values in preparation.  We’ll cover that in a following post in a couple weeks, where we’ll look at the same recruiter survey and examine what Eagle’s Recruiters consider as great preparation. Stay tuned!