Let's face it: If you could be hired for a job based on your resume alone, there would be no need to interview. But because no one is hired solely as a result of their work experience or accomplishments, interviews are a necessary evil.
The face-to-face meeting does, however, offer an opportunity to go beyond the resume and set yourself apart from other equally qualified candidates.
So, how do you leverage the interview to rise above the rest? It all comes down to communication. Many surveys have found that verbal communication is one of the top skills employers value in recent college grads. It stands to reason, then, that being well-spoken is one of the best ways for candidates to gain an edge over their competition.
But that's not the only way. Here are 10 other ways to set yourself apart from the pack:
1. Make Your Excitement About the Opportunity Obvious
Companies want to hire people who are eager to work for them, so express enthusiasm while you're answering interview questions.
Candidates don't always realize that they aren't fully expressing their interest. More often than we want to admit, recruiters get the following feedback from clients, "I like this candidate, but they didn't really seem excited about the position."
Ouch – that stings, and it is definitely hard to recover from. Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes. Wouldn't you pick the candidate who showed more interest and excitement about the opportunity, assuming all the skills were there?
2. Don't Make the Interviewer Dig for Answers
Solid candidates recognize what the interviewer is trying to uncover based on their line of questioning and respond accordingly. This means they don't just say, "Oh, I have great organizational skills." They actually offer unprompted examples of how they organize their priorities and how their organizational skills positively impacted the outcome of certain projects.
3. Leave the Generic Responses at Home
Great candidates usually have unique points of view and thoughtful answers to questions. Don't be afraid to take some time to gather your thoughts in front of the interviewer before responding to a question. It's better than rushing to give a generic answer that the interviewer has probably heard a hundred times.
4. Demonstrate Your Flexibility
It's wonderful to be committed to a five-year plan or to have clear, professional goal in mind, but you don't want to come across as rigid, especially since your specific goals may limit you from opportunities and/or directions that will only become apparent with a new position.
5. Own Your Past Experiences
When responding to questions, you are either in control of the answer, or the answer is like a runaway train. Candidates with excellent communication skills talk about their past experience in precise terms.
Prior to any interview, you should brush up on the details of your work history and the progression of your career so that you can talk about any aspect with ease and use it to your advantage when needed.
Related: Recruiters Share Their Thoughts on How to Stand Out During the Interview Process
6. Quantify Your Value
If you have numbers to back up your experience, use them. Whether it's dollars saved or earned for a company, time-saving efficiencies you introduced, or other quantifiable successes, be sure to articulate them during the interview process.
7. Show That You Can Take Initiative
Effectively communicate that you're the type of employee who takes initiative. Even at the entry-level, companies hire individuals who will evolve into leaders. Convey this during the interview by providing an example of a project where you self-started or went above and beyond.
8. Talk About Being Growth-Oriented – Without Talking About Future Positions
Great candidates are able to express a desire to grow within a position for their own betterment and to add to their own skill set – not necessarily to climb the ranks.
9. Be Genuine in Your Delivery and Comfortable in Your Own Skin
An interview can put people on edge and make them tense. Although easier said than done, it's best to be yourself. It's critical that you come across as genuine and authentic in order to build rapport with the interviewer. If you do this well, the interviewer will come away with a better idea of what it would be like to have you on their team.
10. Keep the Conversation Fluid
Make the interview enjoyable for the interviewer! Ask questions that engage the interviewer and facilitate back and forth dialogue.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.