13 Tricks to Become the “Perfect” Candidate

How badly do you want this job? That’s the question you have to ask yourself every time you read a job posting and decide to go through the application process.

If you are not really ready to go after the job, then don’t even bother. Your lack of enthusiasm will show in your cover letter, in your resume, and, in the interview. Here are 13 things to do that will demonstrate to the employer that you are the perfect candidate to fill the role.

Before the Interview

  1. Read the posting very carefully – read it many times. Make note of each skill, talent, or prior experience it specifies. Make a list of these things. Make notes of what you have to offer that relates to each of these things. Write down key words or phrases. These will need to be included in your applicant materials.

  2. Research the company or organization. Dig deep. Don’t just go to the company website and navigate through. Go to LinkedIn and search for individuals associated with that company and read their profiles. Read any article you can find on that organization. You must have a complete understanding of the company, its culture, its mission, and so forth.

  3. Write or revise your resume based upon what you now know about the position and the company. Focus on those skills that are in the job description and tweak the language to include those key words or phrases you have written down. Don’t you dare have even a single comma out of place! Have someone really

  4. Write a letter of motivation. This of course is similar to a cover letter but is much more focused on the position that is advertised and presents yourself as strongly qualified for that position. Start the letter with a short compelling sentence and bullet a couple of accomplishments that are directly related to the job description. Show enthusiasm.

  5. Clean up your social media accounts before you send the letter and resume. Companies are doing a first pass background check on you and starting with your social media. Either put privacy settings on or explain to certain friends why you have to temporarily unfriend them. Delete any questionable content and any pictures of you that may be unflattering. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, get one. If you do, revise your profile to get in some of those keywords and some terminology you picked up from your research that speaks to the organization’s mission.

  6. Be available for your interview when they want you. Take a sick day if you have to. And try to schedule your interview for late Tuesday morning, if you have that option. Research shows that this will the time when your interviewer is less distracted by other tasks and responsibilities and fully able to focus on you.

Preparation for the Interview

  1. More research please. Now you are looking for any press releases or news articles about the organization. You may be able to “drop” something about what you read during the interview. If nothing else, this demonstrates that you are smart.

  2. Plan for the interview questions. Think about the job description – what questions might you be asked other than just the routine stuff? Make a list of questions. Set up a mock interview with a friend or family member. Practice! You don’t want to sound robotic, but you do want to come across as a good oral communicator.

  3. Grooming. Yes, grooming. If you need a haircut, get one. Take whatever you are going to wear to the cleaners and have it professionally cleaned and pressed. Leave it in the bag until you put it on – this prevents household odors from being absorbed. Choose clothing that matches the culture. A bank – professional business outfit. A new tech startup - Casual pants and a collared shirt or blouse. You get the idea.

  4. Write down questions you plan to ask. You aren’t going to pull the list out during the interview. You need to memorize them. If you don’t have questions when asked, you don’t look smart and interested. No questions about pay or benefits!

The Interview

  1. Answer every question specifically, referring to your accomplishments. And listen carefully to the question before you answer it. In your enthusiasm to get something said, you may insert it where it has no relevance to what is being asked.

  2. Be Honest. If you don’t know something, say so. And don’t try to cover up being terminated from another position – explain it as truthfully as you can.

  3. Nonverbal stuff. Sit up, keep eye contact at all times, and smile and nod as the interviewer is talking. Use appropriate gestures as you are talking – it shows interest and enthusiasm.

As you leave, it is certainly OK to smile and say, “I am really excited about this possibility. Thank you so much for considering me!”

Now, see how preparation tips outnumber actual interview tips? This is exactly how it should be.