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Jan 6

How do I stand out from a pool of candidates who are “very accomplished and impressive” in their backgrounds?

Dear Recruiter,


I recently had a company’s recruiter tell me that I was in a pool of candidates who are “very accomplished and impressive” in their backgrounds. How do I make myself stand out when there seems to be good competition on a position?




Dear Preston,

That’s a great question. What often gets lost in interviewing is that it truly is selling. Not the used car, “What’s it going to take for me to be able to get this job?” selling, but a professional sale. A few principles of hiring:

  • Companies make hires for one reason, and that is to make the company more profitable. This is done either by increasing sales, or decreasing costs/expenses.
  • Usually there are problems that need to be solved to accomplish this goal
  • People want to work with people they’d feel comfortable going to lunch with.


How do we act during interviews to pull these premises in our favor?

  • Understand the reason the position is open. What is not getting done? How is that impacting the team? The bottom line? How is that affecting the person this reports to?
  • Use examples of how you’ve solved similar problems in the past. Never underestimate the power of experience and how much better it is than “book knowledge”.
  • Don’t fake knowledge/experience. If you don’t know something, or don’t have the experience they’re asking about, be open. “I don’t know” is refreshing! If this is the case, you can draw back on an experience where you similarly didn’t know something but got up to speed and proficient on a task, technology, or practice quickly.
  • Be personable, smile, and ask questions of those you’re interviewing with. People tend to like people more when they’re able to tell you about themself.
  • Your goal at the end of the interview is to have the person/people you’re interviewing will think to themselves, “I need to hire that person, he/she will make my life so much easier and make us successful.”

I hope this helps.