Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

3 Key Differentiators During the Interview Process

3 Key Differentiators During the Interview ProcessWith so many people applying to and interviewing for jobs, it’s important to think about ways to differentiate yourself from the many other interviewees. You should have three key differentiators, such as top notch references, a professional portfolio, and quick follow up. 

1. Top-notch References

Never wait until references are requested to speak with and line up your top references.  This could cause delays in providing your references to the hiring manager, which then causes the hiring manager to wonder why you are having such a difficult time confirming past employers who are willing to vouch for your work.

Stay ahead of the game!  As soon as you have started your job search, contact and notify your references confidentially, that you are considering other opportunities and would like to use them as a reference.  Make sure that you have correct contact information for them.

Always, provide 3 previous managers as references.  Typically, when being considered for an opportunity, the hiring manager will want to speak with past managers versus co-workers or employees that you managed.

In addition to the 3 managers, also include 2 previous clients for good measure.

Think carefully back on your relationship with each reference.  Is there is any possibility that you burned a bridge or that they may say something unfavorable about you?  If so, do NOT provide them as a reference!

2. Professional Portfolio

A great way to stand out amongst a line of interviewees is by creating a professional portfolio of your work samples and achievements.  Make sure that your portfolio is professional and clean.  Do not use worn out folders or pages with scribble or folded corners.

This does not have to be a large portfolio, but it does need to be detailed and organized.  Add in letters of recommendation or emails of praise from managers or executives regarding projects worked on.  Include past project presentations and outlines of quotas or achievements.

3. Quick Follow-up

Nothing screams RED FLAG louder than a candidate who does not return calls or emails promptly.  Ensure that the hiring manager has the best method of contact for reaching you and make sure you are checking steadily for communication and responding promptly.

After each interview, it is key to follow-up with the hiring manager.  Always send a thank you email stating your appreciation for their time, referencing something that was mentioned in the interview and how your expertise relates.  Also, be sure to close the thank you by expressing your interest in the position and your eagerness to answer any additional questions.

If the hiring manager informs you that you will receive a status update or next steps within three days, make sure you follow up with a phone call the morning of the fourth day if you have not heard anything.  This displays your interest in the position.

Differentiating yourself amongst many other candidates can be a challenge.  Having top notch references prepared, a professional portfolio, and quick follow up will all display your interest level in a position as well as help you have a better chance at closing the deal!

What are some things that you do to stand out during the interview process?  Leave your tips in the comments below!

Image: Wavebreak Media Ltd/

Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.

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