An interview is a competition, plain and simple, and only one person can win that competition. Having a good resume and answering the interview questions reasonably well will rarely be enough to win the competition in today’s job market. You need to ask yourself “what am I doing before, during, and after the interview to separate myself from my competitors?”
One big differentiator and a great way to make a positive impression is to create a “leave behind package” for each person that you interview with. You don’t wait for them to ask you to prepare something, you do it anyway. You do more than they ask for and more than they expect. Currently, only about 10% of interview candidates use this tool, and it is universally seen as a positive.
It starts with a basic folder (a pocket on each side, I recommend black glossy folders). Inside the folder on the left side you should include your current resume in the front and behind that a copy of your references list (people they can call and ask about you).
On the right side the front document should be a customized cover letter indicating why you are interested in the company and why you would be a perfect fit for the role that you are interviewing for. Behind the cover letter should be at least two letters of recommendation (pre-written endorsements of you written “to whom it may concern”). They should be a half to a full page long.
This is the minimum leave behind package. It is helpful to add additional materials including a business card, examples of your work, a recent performance evaluation, copies of awards, or any other documents that show your qualifications.
The successful interview candidate always does “more” rather than “less”. It takes “more” in today’s job market to win a competition against several other qualified candidates. It takes “above and beyond”, it takes being remembered, it takes surprising your interviewer in a positive way.
The leave behind package is one of several differentiators that have helped job seekers show their interest in the role, reinforce their qualifications and win the competition.
Written by guest blogger Todd Nicholas