How to get the job: recruitment experts on the interview techniques that work

We asked experts from the public and private sector

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The Independent Online

Om Ruparel is the founder of digital recruitment agency, Recruitmentology.

He sees candidates for a living, and more often than not, those candidates have the same sorts of degrees and experience. "I tell them: you all have degrees from good universities, you all have a 2.1 or better, you all have retail and office and admin experience but you need to stand out!" Om says.

But how to stand out when the competition is so fierce? We asked recruitment experts from the public and private sector what one thing would improve most candidates' chances of getting the job.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna:

"For candidates, communication is key. Employers want to hear how you could benefit their team. My best advice is to talk about transferable skills and highlight what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. Secondly, applicants need to stand out from the crowd, in a good way. Recruiters and prospective employers can see hundreds of applications for a single role, and often like to see a different approach, or a hint of innovative thinking in the applications they receive."

Paula Marsh Strategic HR Manager at Wiltshire Council:

• Enthusiasm – smile, positive body language, show willingness to learn, be excited about the prospect of working for the company – interviewers want to employ someone who wants to be there! 

• Talk about the job as though you are already in it – e.g.  say "we could implement X"

• Research the company, understand their values ,what they stand for etc

• There’s usually a standard set of questions interviewers warm up with  – why do you want this job, what attracted you to this company, what skills will you bring – and almost always an opportunity to ask a question at the end.  Make sure you know what you will say when asked these.

• Read books or google about top tips for interviewing and prepare – don’t rely on luck!

Om Ruparel, founder and managing director of digital recruitment agency, Recruitmentology:

"Think about what you’ve done that makes you better – that makes you really passionate about the job you’re going for. 

No matter how old they are, I always tell my candidates about the importance of extra-curricular activities – creating and maintaining your own website, or that of a friend, playing some kind of sports in a team environment or doing charity work of some kind. 

"But most importantly, no matter what qualifications you have, a positive personality, the right attitude and the aptitude to learn are the most valuable things for an employer." 

Andrew McNeilis, COO at Phaidon International:

"Passion expressed at interview. We hire someone who can do the job and would fit the culture. Someone that shows the right attitude and desire at interview will always trump someone who is lacsidaisical. Keen, looking in the eye. Passion for wanting the job. Rehearse it to get this – you can can prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance – the five p’s people who try and wing it often crumble and their nerves show."

Ben Broughton co-founder of Premier Recruitment Group, says:

"Preparation for the interview.  In the recruitment world we put a huge amount of time discussing roles with candidates so they have a full picture of what the job is about before they arrive.  People tend to decide if someone is right for a role in ten minutes, make sure you aren’t giving them any reasons to say no."

Val Matta, vice president of business development at CareerShift:

"In a word: research. When a candidate finds a job posting or a company that they are interested in, it’s important to start collecting information about both the position and the company. Peruse the website, see what other people are saying about the company and, if possible, try to reach out to a current employee in a similar job.

"This is important for two major reasons. First, it will help you understand if a particular job is really a good fit for you. Once you get a sense of the office’s culture and what it is like to work there every day, you’ll have a better idea if this is really the job for you. Second, it will give you valuable information you’ll need to nail the application and interview process. Knowing more about a company and what they look for in a job candidate will help you tailor your resume and give you a sense of confidence during an interview."