How to Impress, Not Distress a Hiring Manager


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You’ve finally snagged a face-to-face job interview. As you’re waiting to be called into the hiring manager’s office, you look around and see all of the other candidates waiting for their job interview.

Sure, you’re sporting a perfectly ironed shirt, but so are they. You’ve checked and rechecked your resume, but they’ve probably done the same. You spent the last few days practicing a nice, firm handshake, but if they want this job as much as you do, they have, too. Panic begins to creep in as you rack your brain for a way to stand out from the rest of the pack and land the job.

Recently, a CareerBuilder survey listed some of the most over-the-top tactics job applicants have used to try and stick out in the hiring manager’s mind. Here’s a look at some of the worst mistakes and ways you can avoid becoming a #CandidateFail:

Candidate gift-wrapped their resume

In gift-wrapping their resume, the candidate was probably trying to demonstrate that what was printed on that piece of paper was something special — literally and figuratively a gift. However, in practice, it comes off as over-confident. Not to mention, the hiring manager was probably annoyed about having to deal with all of that wrapping paper.

Try this instead: There are plenty of better ways to make your resume memorable while still remaining professional. For instance, consider creating a video or infographic resume. These options are equally colorful and far more professional than wrapping paper.

Candidate answered their phone, claiming it was about another job offer

We’ll give the candidate the benefit of the doubt and assume they were trying to show that they’re a desirable employee — not just without manners. Even so, it’s still not the way to go about it, especially when The Creative Group found pulling out your phone during a job interview was hiring managers’ biggest pet-peeve.

Try this instead: Have someone in the company vouch for your skills. Using CareerShift’s networking tools, you can find and make connections before an interview, so someone — besides you — can talk to the hiring manager about all you have to offer.

Candidate acted like a game show host

Everybody loves Bob Barker, but that doesn’t mean imitating him will have the hiring manager saying “Come on down!” during the job interview. This candidate definitely proved they’re a unique individual, but there is a fine line between standing out and freaking out.

In fact, a survey by Cubiks found that 59 percent of organizations had not hired a candidate because they felt they wouldn’t fit with the company culture. A wacky grand gesture during the interview probably won’t show the hiring manager that you’ll fit in around the office.

Try this instead: While you should never misrepresent yourself, you should do your research about the company’s culture beforehand. Find out what qualities they value and which of those qualities you possess. For example, if the company has a history of hiring employees that volunteer, be sure to highlight your own charitable work.

Candidate found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and arranged to pick up the tab

This gesture was likely meant to show appreciation for the interview, but taking the time to find out exactly where the hiring manager was going to be in their private time comes off as a bit stalker-like.

Try this instead: A far less intrusive idea would be to have a simple thank you note delivered to the hiring manager’s office. Something they can hold in their hand will stand out compared to an email.

Better yet, instead of spending your time researching the hiring manager’s favorite restaurant, find out exactly what the company needs and wants from an employee and show them you’re exactly what they’re looking for.

What are some other creative ways to stand out in a job interview? Share in the comments!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.