In a typical hiring process, it is common for an organization to receive hundreds of applicants for a single job opening, phone screen 10-20 individuals, and hold face-to-face interviews with as many as 5 or 6 candidates. If the employer is looking to hire multiple candidates, this scenario leads to even greater numbers as a company will often interview 2-3 times the candidates per available position. With these numbers, how does one stand out from the crowd? Be memorable.
Being memorable can be good or bad. Are you going to be the candidate who has an inappropriate email address on her resume or the guy who shows up to the interview wearing no socks (both are actual examples)? Why not be the candidate who impresses the 8:00am interviewer or the person who the hiring manager remembers specific details about at the end of the on-site interview day. How does one become memorable for the right reasons?
One strategy is to use strong examples during your interview. Telling a good story to demonstrate an experience or skill set is easier to remember than making unsubstantiated claims or providing basic facts. People remember the details of a well-crafted story. For example, if someone were to ask your experience with Excel, being able to relay a story that detailed your expertise will have a greater impact than if you were to tell the interviewer that you have received an advanced certification in MS Excel.
Another way to be memorable to is to include some unique aspects about yourself during the interview (ideally in the examples you use during the interview). I still remember the student who won the state free-throw championship in Ohio in 2008 as a 16-year-old and the young woman who had climbed 4 of the “7 summits” by the time she was a senior in college. Then there is the example a recent hire where her thank you notes were the best I had ever read because of the way she pulled in examples from her interview. Each of these candidates put a personal stamp onto their interview process. We meet thousands of people in our lives but some people resonate with us – think about why that is and see if it is applicable to the job search process.
Finally, there is the danger of being memorable for the wrong reasons. For example, the applicant who made herself too comfortable in an interview and helped herself to coffee. Then, she challenged the interviewer when he mentioned her academic record. Her abrasive personality and her inability to read social cues left a strong impression. Even more memorable was the gentleman who wore no socks to his investment banking interviews and wondered why he had difficulty generating offers. Being memorable for the wrong reasons will do more damage than not being remembered because once you have made a strong negative impression, it is difficult generating a second chance at that firm or with a specific hiring manager.
So in your job hunt, think of unique aspects about yourself that highlight positive traits. Have friends share with you what they remembered about you when you first met…then filter the results to ensure you are memorable for the right reasons. If you believe these traits will be of value to the future employer, work them into your next interview and become memorable. The next time you leave the interview room, your impression will stay with the search committee.
Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center. In this role, he leads the center’s employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies. He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.