There’s a simple approach that the most successful job seekers use to quickly stand out in their interview, grab the hiring manager’s attention, and send a signal that they are in demand.

It isn’t a single answer they give, and it’s not a trick; it’s a mentality that will change how you respond to a wide variety of questions.

How the Top Job Seekers Approach Their Interviews

Here’s how the most sought-after job candidates conduct their search: They decide what’s most important to them in their next career move, they speak with a number of companies that they feel will offer this, and they ask questions. They ask about the projects and work offered, the overall direction of the company, they ask about the manager and team they’d be working with, and more.

They narrow down their choices and continue the process with the most attractive companies until they’ve found the job they want. Now, you might not have 20 companies chasing you or multiple recruiters calling you. That’s OK. Anyone can use this mindset, and the steps below will teach you how.

The Key to Impressing Companies in the First Five Minutes

1. Decide what’s important to you

You need to have something that you’re prioritizing in your job search. It doesn’t matter if you’re unemployed and need a paycheck, you need to find something career-related. What type of skills and experience do you hope to gain next and why?

2. Go into the interview with the intention of learning more about the opportunity

This is really the key piece to the entire process, but it’s not possible without completing the step above. You need to go into the interview room with the mentality that you’ve decided what’s important to you, the job appears to offer some of what you’re looking for, and you’re interested in interviewing to learn more. 

This mindset will change how you answer many of the common interview questions.

Here’s how the mentality plays out in reality:

Let’s say they ask a question like, “why did you apply for this job?”

How somebody with a traditional mindset might answer: “I thought I would be a great fit for this position because I have been in customer service for five years, leading multiple projects and developing new initiatives to improve our success across the department.”

How you might answer: “I noticed on the job description that project leadership is mentioned quite a lot. I’ve spent the last five years in customer service and have had a chance to lead multiple projects and new initiatives, and I’m looking to get even more involved in this in my next role. So I was eager to come in and have a conversation to learn more about the opportunity.”

All of a sudden, you’re not seen as someone who is trying to persuade the hiring manager to choose you no matter what. Sure, you should still sell yourself, but you will seem far more credible if you’re putting a priority on learning about the opportunity. What this does is aligns your goals with those of the hiring manager. You are both trying to determine if this is a good match. This will immediately build trust and set you apart.

3. Ask great questions of your own to support this strategy

To back this strategy up, you need to ask questions throughout the interview to find out about the topics that are important to you. What do you need to know to make your decision? That’s what you should ask. You can ask about the work the group is involved in, the overall direction of the company, what some of the challenges are, and what the role could develop into in one or two years.

If you follow this approach you will immediately stand out in your interviews, feel more relaxed and comfortable, and build a better connection with the hiring manager so you receive more job offers.

Originally published at


  • Biron Clark

    Executive Recruiter, Founder at

    Biron Clark is a job search advice author and former Executive Recruiter. As a Recruiter, he has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies and venture-funded tech startups in the US and Europe, while partnering with hundreds of job seekers to help them advance their careers.