Despite the usual connotations around job interviews, not every answer in an interview has to be a grand monologue. Instead, do your research on the finer details to make a good first impression.
Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup South Africa, explains: “We see hundreds of candidates a month for interviews, and it is those who go above and beyond memorising the answers to the usual questions that leave a lasting impression.”

Van den Barselaar suggests some small ways you can impress in a job interview.

Memorise the company’s mission

The difference between two equally qualified candidates for a job can come down to, who really wants this particular job? You can set yourself apart from being just another job seeker by knowing what the company stands for.

Don’t just repeat the company mission statement back to your interviewer, as this can sound insincere. Instead, relate a story to why what the company for resonates with you.

“Find a way to tie the company’s mission and messaging with your own life, and highlight the similarities. Not only does this show you’ve done your homework on more than just the company structure, but also gives the interviewer a chance to get to know you on a personal level,” says van den Barselaar.

Look up recent posts on social media

A company isn’t a static entity, but an ever-evolving institution just like any person. To stay in touch with what’s currently going on with the organisation, familiarise yourself with any news the company has recently been posting about in social media. This will both help you get a better sense of what’s important to the company, and can also provide you great content to discuss in the interview.

According to LinkedIn’s Recruiting Trends report for 2016, about 56% of potential employees in South Africa look to social professional networks when searching for new opportunities.

“It advantageous to also use these platforms to aid in your understanding of the organisation. Businesses usually share content that is aligned with their messaging, strategy and their products and services. It’s a great way to get to know about the company culture and the way in which the business wants to be seen by its customers,” says van den Barselaar.

Talk to current employees

For most people, talking to current employees means asking someone for a favour to put in a good word for you. Instead of that approach, talk to someone who currently works at the company to ask them what they like most about working there. This can inform your research and help shape your thoughts about why you want to work for the company.

“This will also arm you with a more genuine response when asked why you want the position,” says van den Barselaar.

Know your interviewers’ names

Nothing in language sounds as sweet as your own name, and someone you just met using your first name shows that you care and pay attention to detail. Don’t overdo it by peppering every sentence with someone’s name of course. Instead, use it in subtle ways, such as the end of the interview calling them by name when you make your goodbyes.

Show up with references

If things go well, your interviewers will call your references to see what others say about you. Give them a preview by typing up and printing out highlights of praise for specific skills that others have given you. You can reach out to references to get this, or simply compile a list from LinkedIn recommendations.

A word of caution: there’s a fine line between looking prepared and looking arrogant, so save this until the end for after you’ve built up a rapport.

Ultimately, you want to keep these small gestures in perspective. They are no replacement for skills and ability. At the same time, going the extra mile in showing that you’re paying attention are the intangibles that hiring committees look for when selecting valuable members of a team.

“Putting in some extra effort may not require too much time, but will leave a lasting impression on your interviewer – and could be the factor that makes you the candidate of choice,” concludes van den Barselaar.