You Need This “Secret Sauce” to Win Interviews

Secret SauceIf you want to win the interview, you need more that a nice suit, a copy of the résumé you used in application and your references.

You need tools that will really get you noticed. You need an innovative way to differentiate your from the competition. Sometimes, this can require being gutsy, and always require a good sensitivity to the appropriateness of your tactics.

But when you pull out the stops and create a truly positive and memorable interview experience, employers remember that… and you.

Here are some ideas that could be your secret sauce for winning interviews:

Create a Target Employer Binder

Not that I advocate for cutting down more tree,s but if you walk into an interview with a binder that has the company’s logo inserted into the clear sleeve, (and the interior that has printouts of information about the company), this is a great attention getting move. They are going to wonder, “What is in there, and how did they get that?”

Visual Aids

Unexpected visual aids can have a huge impact. Long ago, I applied at a job with Travel Oregon as a tourism development manager. Oregon is a big state, and I thought about the fact that I needed to show how much I have traveled around to show my knowledge of the different communities. My visual aid when they asked the question about how much I knew about Oregon? I pulled out an Oregon highway map that had every single road that I had been on in yellow highlighter. That blew them away.

Infographic Handouts Tell Stories

Create a graphic representation of your ideas, and have them available as handouts which are “leave-behinds” for employers to mull over long after you have left the interview room.

Present Your Own Research

Recently, a former client of mine sent out a Survey Monkey questionnaire to his entire network asking questions about the target company. Based on the responses, he is planning on walking into the interview with real-time data about the employer that will provide insights that underscore his ideas on how he could help them.

Own List of In-depth Questions

Take your list of interview questions to ask the employer to the next level… through your own due diligence, take a deeper dive on the company to really find out their challenges or opportunities. Dig into news reports, stock reports, or any other data that can help you ask meaningful questions about the company’s story.

Develop a Prototype

Don’t give away the store with your idea, but if you can provide some glimmer of the ideas that could help take the company to the next interview, you could leave the employer absolutely hungry for more.

Identify a Major Gap

Be willing to ask the company: “Have you ever considered X?” Truth is, they may not have. Or, at the very least, they would be impressed that you saw it too.

Provide a Solution By Demonstrating Knowledge of Pain Points

Consider what keeps the employer up at night. What can you do to solve those issues and help them achieve their goals?

Read Voraciously About the Employer

The more you know and can feel comfortable discussing with a potential employer shows your resourcefulness and intelligence.

Planning for the Subconscious

I have heard from people who have done things as simple as using a pen with the target company’s logo during the interview to even wearing interview attire colors that are aligned to the company’s brand and logo.

But the real secret to success to interviews is being able to draw a straight line between what you offer and what the employer needs, and use stories to underscore your ability to do so. Never forget the impact of powerful storytelling on winning interviews!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services!




Dawn Rasmussen 3About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP is President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, a provider of results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Dawn is also the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide and, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a recognized career expert on – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog – and a regular contributor to’s #TChat. Follow Dawn on Twitter!



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