10 ways to impress an employer, from industry insiders

campus party

With over 80 applicants for every position on traditional graduate schemes, it has never been more important to stand out, in both the interview process and the first few months on a new job. But what’s the best way to get your prospective employer or brand new boss to notice you? Turning up for your interview in a red velvet suit? Memorising the entirety of the Financial Times? Bribery?

In search of answers, we went along to the Enternships Career Fair at Campus Party, held all this week at London’s O2 Centre. Amidst the hackathons, gaming sessions and astronomy talks, we sought out some industry insiders to dish the details on what they were most interested in when looking for a new employee.

So listen up – here are the ten tips to help you bag (and keep hold of) that career of your dreams.

1.     Be confident (but not too confident)

Brodie Houlette, CEO of private social network Collability, definitely looks for confidence in prospective employees, but warned us against the dangers of getting complacent in an interview having been unimpressed with overly confident candidates in the past.

2.     Be enthusiastic

A word that cropped up frequently amongst our industry insiders was “enthusiasm”. And – unlike confidence – it seems you can’t have too much of it.

Karolina Mikolajczyk, Administration and Recruitment Assistant at Ve Interactive, explained that, first and foremost, she looks for real passion for the job in potential employees.

3.     Do your research

According to Matt McNeill at Sign-Up.To, too many candidates let themselves down by not reading up on his company beforehand. “The number of people that come in and see us and they haven’t even bothered to take out a demo of our platform – when that’s completely free to do on the website – just astounds me”.

Hear that, people? Do your reading! And not just the company’s Wikipedia page.

4.     Talk about your hobbies and interests

Brodie Houlette likes to ask interviewees about their interests.  “To me, I like to hear about hobbies because they tell me a lot about a person. They give you a broader picture.” Don’t be afraid, in other words, to show that you have interests outside of your career.

Just make sure you don’t delve too deeply into your Harry Potter obsession.

5.     Think outside the box

When hiring new staff, CEO of Thumbtags Ian Baron looks for people who can think outside the box, going on to explain “Because we’re a young start-up, it’s all hands on deck. You’ve got to be pitching in on different things, having crazy ideas”.

So next time you’re in a meeting, go right ahead and pitch that “out there” idea – even if it does involve cyborgs.

6.     Be sociable

Daumantas Dvilinskas from TransferGO is always keen to see “not only the professional side but the social side” of prospective employees, and stresses the importance of seeing how a person relates to their peers.

Houlette similarly places a great deal of emphasis on being sociable, claiming that – no matter how impressive your skills set – if you’re not a people person, you won’t go far in his company.

7.     Show that you’re flexible

Being flexible and open to change is a hugely important quality in a potential employee, according to Rahul Ahuja from TaskHub, who explains that he is looking for people who are “always learning, on the go, all the time”.

8.     Work independently

Ahuja is also impressed by employees who act upon their own initiative, and don’t wait around to be told what to do. “Set your own deadlines and projects and work towards them,” advises Ahuja.

9.     Flaunt your skills

Though many positions will list a certain set of skills within their candidate specification, Karolina Mikolajczyk thinks it’s important for interviewees to talk about broader talents – even if they might not seem relevant.

10.  Don’t tell your interviewer they’re wrong!

Though this one might seem a no-brainer, it has happened to Houlette before. There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, but maybe keep schtum until you’ve got the job, alright? That’s all we ask.

By Florence Vincent, Reporting From #CPEurope for Enternships.