Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers!
Today’s Question: What is the most creative way you’ve seen a job applicant set themselves apart (in a good way) during an interview?
The answers below are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs.
1. They Started With Trust
Good candidates tend to focus on the results and how they got them. They will go the extra mile to share examples of what they can achieve so they can build trust with you. It starts with trust. It’s also about the chemistry. If the chemistry is good between the candidate and interviewer, then the candidate is likely a good fit.
— Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
2. They Confidently Carried a Conversation
Candidates should convey confidence and show that they’ve done their research. I love when an applicant is comfortable in their own skin and not afraid to ask insightful questions, both in the interview and with our clients. Fluid, genuine conversation shows they’ve taken the time to understand the opportunity at hand and, if given the opportunity, will be a strong addition to the team.
— Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing
3. They Described How They’d Thrive in the Position
A job applicant once came in with an outlook on how she would thrive in the position. She used research on our company and competitor analysis, and she showed off her unique skills. This proved she was capable of performing the job and understood what was needed. Even if some of her goals were lofty, it showed ambition and demonstrated her thought process in a fantastic way.
— Duran Inci, Optimum7
4. They Came With a Plan
I had an applicant come with a six-month plan for how they would help the organization with goals, tactics, timeline, and budget. I was impressed that they arrived with a plan ready to roll out. It showed real initiative.
— Serenity Gibbons, NAACP
5. They Provided Recommendations for Improvements
One applicant had a completely customized resume for the role that included a lot of good recommendations for parts of the company that could be improved. It was product-specific and very on point. This was unique enough to move the candidate to a second interview after we inquired about the resume during the first.
— Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting
6. They Shared the Path They Saw for Themself Within the Company
I like a candidate who has thought through what they want in a job. We had a woman come in who was super accomplished on paper, then took the interview to the next level. She explained where she saw herself in two years within the company and how she personally thought she would help us grow. It was my favorite interview to date. We were thrilled to hire her.
— Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution
7. They Created a Free Account to Learn More About the Company
Our top candidates are those who share during the interview that they have created free accounts on our website to learn more about us. That always gets our hiring team to pay more attention. These candidates are able to be more specific about how their past experiences and skill sets can be applied to building our product and company.
— Nanxi Liu, Enplug
8. They Came Prepared With an Interview Agenda
The most impressive candidate I’ve ever interviewed sat down in our conference room, opened up a notebook, and shared their own agenda for the first 15 minutes of the interview. This candidate essentially ran the interview herself for the first half of our session. As the candidate was applying for a project management position, I knew she’d knock everything out of the park. Hired!
— Matthew Manos, verynice
9. They Created an Explainer Video
An applicant recorded a five-minute video explaining why they were the right fit for our open position. It was short, funny, and a great way for them to showcase their personality. The best part was the applicant had analytics attached to the video, so they knew exactly when we opened the video, and they called us promptly to check on their application.
— Connor Tomkies, SupportNinja
10. They Admitted Their Shortcomings
Many people advise against this. However, if you do it right, it can work.
For example, maybe you say you weren’t in the top 10 in selling for the last quarter, but you led in overall productivity and implemented three of your ideas that improved overall business operations. Shortcomings, when couched correctly, can work to your advantage.
— Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
11. They Discussed Their Creations Outside of Work
I am always impressed by applicants who create their own things outside of work, such as a YouTube channel with 50,000 subscribers or if they developed their own personal website. I want to see what candidates create during their free time outside of work to find out where their passions truly lie.
— Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
12. They Were Funny
The thought of using humor in a job interview is intimidating and it’s not for everyone, but if you can do it well, you’ll stand out. The right kind of humor can make you more relatable, and making the interviewer laugh is certainly memorable.
— John Turner, SeedProd, LLC
13. They Proactively Applied Their Skills Before the Interview
The best way for a job applicant to set themselves apart is to proactively apply their skills to the position they seek, tailored toward the organization they wish to work for. For example, a designer could craft concepts for a current project. A PR person could compile a plan for how they would have handled an opportunity for positive press that was missed. Nothing sets a candidate apart like going that extra mile!
— Jeff Jahn, DynamiX