15 minute Job Search Boost! Stand-Out Interview Strategies

We have 96 intervals of 15 minutes every day, meaning you have many opportunities to make a difference.  Each day this month, I’m giving you a 15-minute project idea. Pick your favorites to improve your day, yourself or your world. I promise you have time for this.

In the last decade, I’ve interviewed over 1000 people.  And I’ve discovered a few things that really make the right people stand out.  Your job search takes time, but if you organize your methods–you significantly increase your chances to get the job you want and set yourself up for success with your new position.

Sometimes getting to the interview is the hardest part.  Once you’re here, your foot is already in the door.  You need to figure out how to make sure you’re the candidate that stands-out so you have the option to take the job if it’s right for you.  Here are smart strategies to make sure your interview is successful.

Be confident.  Being confident doesn’t mean you act like a pompous jerk who is too good for everyone.  Being confident means you realize that this person is interviewing you because they need help and they’ve seen something in you that they like.  You are a valuable resource for this company; you aren’t someone who is desperate for a job. You are valuable resource.  Valuable Resource.

Prepare standard answers in advance.  Many employers will ask the same set of basic questions to each candidate and they’re usually pretty standard across the board.  Research these questions in advance and think about your answer in advance.  You don’t need to write a detailed answer and memorize it; you’re not a robot.  But you can prepare so you look prepared. Use your bonus minutes each day to think of your answers–answer 1-2 questions while you’re unloading the dishwasher, running during your workout or folding laundry.  You have to do these things anyway–make that mindless time work for you!


Describe yourself like a boss.  My favorite information to gather from candidates is “Describe yourself in 3 characteristics.” I’ve asked this to every candidate I’ve ever interviewed and you’d be surprised how 90% of people answer the same way: “I’m a hard-worker, people-person and I’m responsible.” BORING! Did they spend any time thinking about these? Nope, just the first three words that pop into their mind.

Before the interview, think about or use the thesaurus and write down or type up your best qualities (Bonus! and a targeted 2-3 sentence rationale) When you describe yourself like a boss, you’ll accurately stand out to the person you’re speaking to so they realize you’re a valuable resource.

  • Instead of Hard-Worker: Driven, Self-Starter, Motivated, Responsible, Resourceful, Organized, Efficient, Innovative, Zealous.  Sure there isn’t anything wrong with being a hard-worker.  But what if you’re terrible? You can work as hard as you want and still have terrible work.  Think about results-driven words that show you understand the company, can work through problems, find solutions and get the job done right.
  • Instead of People-Person: Customer-Focused, Effective Facilitator, Intelligent Communicator,  Team Player, Skilled Manager/Employee.  Yes, being a people-person is an invaluable quality.  But it doesn’t tell me anything.  I want to know that you can work with people (customers, co-workers, employees and even supervisors), even when they’re not friendly or they’re wrong.  I want to know that you understand how to share the success and not shift blame.  I want to know that you understand business is first.  Being a people person doesn’t mean giving everyone exactly what they want; it means being fair and doing what is best for the business.
  • Instead of Responsible: Accomplished, Consistent, Have Perseverance, Successful, Results-oriented, Exceeds Expectations.  Responsible is great, but what does that mean? I want to know that while you’re working with me, you’re going to manage the details while looking at the bigger picture–especially customer (or human) interactions, that you’re going to take ownership of your projects from start to finish, show up prepared and on time, and keep stakeholders well-informed at every relevant step of the process. So if you can accurately describe this in Responsible, you can keep it–but be careful.

I’d recommend developing a list of 5-7 characteristics you love about yourself.  I usually ask 3, but what if you’re asked about 5 in your interview.  Always be prepared.


  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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