Today’s job market is one of the most competitive in recent memory.  Job seekers (including passive ones) find themselves fighting to stand out from many other equally skilled and talented individuals.  Consequently, everybody is looking for that certain edge, one that will give them the advantage they need to land the job they want.

Many job seekers and candidates especially try to gain an “interview edge,” since gaining that edge can lead directly to receiving an offer of employment.  Oftentimes, they seek that edge in terms of tangible traits, such as skills and training.  However, they might be better served to seek it in terms of the intangible trait of attitude.

Companies and their hiring authorities want more than just somebody who “fills the bill” technically; they want a cultural fit, as well.  Companies are composed of departments, which are like sports teams, in a way.  Viewed in this light, teamwork is crucial to productivity, and by extension, profitability.  That’s why companies look for candidates who possess the potential for being stellar teammates.

That’s also why professional sports teams often trade (or release) players who are still talented—because they’re not good teammates (or as one Major League Baseball player once said, they’re a “cancer in the clubhouse”).

What does this mean for you?  It means that even if you’re not the most talented or experienced candidate, you can make a big impression and put yourself in the running by presenting the proper attitude.  We’re not suggesting that you should be ingenuous or be somebody that you’re not, because everybody can have the proper attitude, regardless of personality.

With that in mind, remember these three key points during a face-to-face interview:

  1. Smile—If you’re not happy about the prospect of working for them, then how will you be happy if you’re actually working for them?
  2. Brand yourself as being positive and optimistic—These attributes can be evident in everything you say, whether you’re making small conversation or answering crucial interview questions.  Everybody wants to be around people who are positive and optimistic, which means they want to hire people who are positive and optimistic.
  3. Show a desire to constantly improve yourself—This lets the hiring manager know that if they make an investment in you, their investment will continue to pay off over the course of time.

Remember, though: if you “talk the talk,” you also have to “walk the walk.”  Once hired, you MUST maintain this attitude.  If not, then you’ll brand yourself as somebody who says one thing, but then does another.  And that won’t give you an edge in any situation.