So often a job interview presents you with a bunch of candidates who have similar experiences according to their resumes. Only at the  McKinsey Interview Cases  stage can they assess the personality of the candidate. But even this can lead to a number of very similar candidates with little to distinguish between.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? If you are able to offer something unique then you have a much better chance of success. You just can’t be ignored.

What could be unique about your application? It doesn’t have to be the fact that you’re the best at something, although that would help. It just means you have to offer something the other candidates can’t offer or forget to highlight it, it’s the same thing.

So what areas can you stand up and say, “I have a unique selling proposition?”

In all job interviews, the interviewer has the recurring question in mind….. What problem do you want the candidate to solve? This is a good place to start. Most candidates will never really find out. They just don’t ask or don’t understand its meaning. You must try to find out. You can then adapt your skills and experience to show how to address this issue. Here is an example:

Job: “We are looking for a salesperson to increase sales.

Current problem: “We need to increase sales because we can hardly make a profit. In fact, we hardly make any profit from each sale because our sales channel is very inefficient.’

Candidate: “I see. Actually we had the same problem at my last company. We have introduced several new sales methods. We launched an e-commerce site, expanded our joint venture distribution partnerships, and brought in our bloated advertising budget. All 3 initiatives resulted in a 35% increase in revenue, but the cost base remained effectively neutral. The gross profit increased by 74%. I was instrumental in driving these changes. It sounds like you have a similar situation to ours 15 months ago that I’m sure I can help you with. Do you want to know more about how I did it?’

YES of course he does!

You have a unique selling proposition. You have experienced this situation before and can relate your experience directly to the task at hand. Such an answer must impress the job interviewer. You already envision the success you can bring to the job role. How on earth could anyone not be impressed?

Actually, the unique selling proposition does not have to be hidden. You may be the only candidate because you are the only candidate who actually convinces the interviewer that you fit the job description.

This is where preparation is so important. List the details of the job description and make sure you have prepared answers with relevant examples that show you can meet all of these criteria. This can make you unique by default.

How else can you make yourself unique?

If you have a particular skill that you know is in short supply , e.g. ”I’ve been using Software x for 18 months. I am quite proud of my mastery achievements because I read recently that very few people have this ability and there is a long learning curve.’

It raises doubts among the interviewers that the other candidates without these skills might take a long time to learn this, while I have a candidate in front of me who has already learned this and can be productive almost immediately.

  • However, be careful not to directly or indirectly criticize other candidates.
  • Look at your resume and find examples of what might be rare or unique…
  • ‘Do you have experience selling a specific product line?’
  • “Have you managed large teams of employees?”
  • “Do you have a specific qualification that other candidates may not have?”
  • “Do you have experience with public speaking”

Your unique selling proposition does not necessarily have to be a specific ability, qualification or experience. You might be the most determined candidate, the most enthusiastic candidate, or most likely to fit into a team environment.

Write down the things you are particularly good at and use them to create a list of strengths. You may then need to trim this list again to identify the traits that you believe are unique. Of course, you can’t know for sure, but if you focus on it, your chances of success will undoubtedly improve.

Get the interviewer to say “yes” in their mind. Control the flow of positive information

An interviewer needs to see you in a positive light. One of the ways to do this is to get her to say “yes” in her own head.

The most effective way to do this is to control the level of positive information they receive.

An interviewer will review your resume and begin with the premise that “on paper” you are sufficiently qualified to fill the role.

You start the interview with

” Let ‘s review your last few roles and tell me what you’ve done (and accomplished)?”

This gives you the opportunity to detail all the positive elements of your career. List the benefits you brought to the role. That’s fine, but the other candidates will be treated the same way!

However, in order to separate the candidates, the interviewer will undoubtedly touch on the negative aspects of your work.

“Tell me about a time when you fell short or didn’t reach your goals”

What aspects of your last job did you dislike?’

Why do you have gaps in your CV?’

The list of negative questions an interviewer can ask is almost endless and they are always the most difficult questions to handle.

An interviewer will often ignore the positive Businessacademy1  aspects of your answers and look much more closely at the potential negative aspects of your career.

Don’t be afraid to address the negative aspects of your career. A successful set of answers will put you in a strong position. It removes a lot of uncertainty in the interviewer’s mind.

The key point is to keep any negative responses or information to a minimum and emphasize the positive ones.

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