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Sometimes, It’s OK to Be the ‘Weird’ Job Candidate


Most of the advice surrounding job interviews and the job hunt in general is about how to stand out — but not too much. After all, no one wants to hire a weirdo, right? Well, it turns out that sometimes, being a bit different is a good strategy.

job interview 

(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

And why is that? Because things that are different stand out.

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“[T]hink about a typical hiring process,” writes Neil Bearden at HBR Blog Network. “A company makes an announcement for a position opening; many people apply; a subset of applicants get interviews; and after the interviews, a group within the company decides whom to hire. Anyone who’s been involved in the hiring process knows that a lot of the discussion around hiring depends on what people ‘remember’ about the interviewees. Of course, there are concrete things to consider (e.g., CVs, psychometric test scores, etc.), but people’s recollections also play a big part.”

In other words, hiring managers are more likely to recall applicants who were a little bit unusual.

Does this mean that you should shave your head and dye your scalp purple before your next job interview? Absolutely not. But it does mean that the things that differentiate you from the competition are important.

When you’re interviewing, keep these things in mind:

1. Genuine is best.

For most jobs, there are scores of qualified applicants. The person who gets the job isn’t just the best person for the role — it’s also the person the hiring manager most wants to work with. Passionate people are more interesting to be around.

2. Look for points of commonality.

Nowadays, if you have the interviewer’s name and title, you can find out a lot about them. (We’re not suggesting you get creepy. Just a quick peek at the person’s public info on LinkedIn can tell you a lot.) If you have common interests — genuine common interests — it’s a good idea to mention them. Just don’t start off with, “While I was frantically searching the internet for information about you…” The conversation should be organic.

3. Be yourself, but don’t get too comfy.

You’re in a job interview, not at a party. Don’t be afraid to be different, but don’t let your freak flag fly. Unless you’re working for a startup with a very liberal culture, being weird won’t get you in the door. First and foremost, focus on your accomplishments and skills.

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What are your favorite job interview tips? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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