While a select few human beings seem to have an impervious ego and an unwavering amount of self-esteem, most of us, including most job seekers, don’t fit this category — and therefore feel particularly uplifted when a company expresses special interest in them or really seems to “get” and appreciate their unique skills, strengths, and qualifications.  In fact, over the years we’ve seen some pretty depressed and despondent people perk up almost instantly upon finally landing one good interview — or upon having an employer express special interest in them and their capabilities!

What many job hunters fail to recognize, however, is that hiring managers and employers often have an EQUAL need to feel respected, acknowledged, and appreciated.  Believe it or not, one common complaint we hear from recruiters and hiring authorities is that the candidates who come in for interviews often seem to have almost no knowledge or interest in the company, itself, and instead give off an ambivalent attitude that suggests they’re merely looking for a paycheck.

This creates a significant area in the process where one can gain a competitive advantage.  When your next interview comes up, we’d encourage you to not only research the company in depth, as always, but to think hard about what truly distinguishes this company from its competition — and from other employers, in general.   Is the company extremely creative and innovative?  Does it do good work in the community?  Does it provide great benefits or tend to offer more work/life balance than the average organization?  Does it appear to have (and operate by) a set of meaningful values and a clear, compelling mission statement?  If you can figure out what really sets the company apart and makes it special, and then reflect this back to the employer during the interview, chances are that you’ll make an extremely positive impression!

The same technique can also work with the specific individual(s) you’re meeting with during the interview process.  If a manager says something you find particularly interesting, enlightened, or profound, don’t be shy about telling them so!  As long as your sentiments seem genuinely sincere, and not something cheesy or smarmy you’re saying just to ingratiate yourself, your compliment should strike a winning chord and earn you some extra credit during the selection process.  Additionally, don’t forget that many employers (just like many job seekers) may not even realize what their true strengths are or what really differentiates them from other companies out there.  So you might be doing them a favor by calling their attention to some quality or virtue they possess that might help them attract other good candidates in the future.

As an example of this technique in action, one client of ours recently praised an employer right at the start of an interview for their success in writing a job advertisement that described the true “essence”of the job — and that addressed both the good parts and the tough/tricky parts of the opportunity in question.  He complimented them for being so upfront about the scope of the assignment and said that he was already highly attracted to the company, as a result, since this approach said a ton about the directness and honesty of the company’s culture — and stood out so drastically from most other employment ads, which tend to be full of hollow, overly-optimistic language.

Long story short, everybody likes to have their “specialness” acknowledged from time to time in a genuine fashion, so don’t be afraid to practice some of this feel-good behavior in your own interviews.  You might be surprised at the good will that you generate across the desk!