Forbes rates independent thinking as one of the top twelve qualities employers look for when hiring, and Business Insider lists being intellectually curious as one of the most attractive qualities in a prospective employee. A room of like-minded individuals grappling with issues and pondering the next steps needed to stay ahead of the curve in their particular field is not nearly as beneficial as a room full of people who approach concerns and scenarios from different vantage points and experiences.

Canned interview responses are like cans of greyish-looking, soggy meat. Both technically get their respective jobs done, but both leave the receiver with a bad taste in their mouth that makes the canned-item either unmemorable or memorable for the wrong reasons.

Coco Chanel, one of the most famous fashion designers and notable forward-thinkers, said: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” This is the mindset of both a successful job-seeker and a successful business.

An important key to interviewing is understanding what you bring to a business and being able to articulate that to the interviewers. Understanding and articulating your ability to be an asset for a company is exactly what a company must do to stay competitive in their respective market. Successful businesses know that identifying and filling consumer demands results in an increased likelihood of long-term success.

Reporting for an interview is similar to consumers searching online for services, brands, and products. When it comes to online searches 90% are started by consumers who have not decided whether or not they buy into a company’s brand, much like a prospective job candidate starts an interview without the interviewer having bought into them as an employee.

This means that what these online-searchers see and read will determine their perspective of the company they’re viewing. If the company does not identify and articulate what sets them apart from their competitors, they will be passed over. Considering that by 2021 global retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion, this is a conversation worth a business’ time.

Unlike high school, where most people spend the majority of their waking hours trying to fit in, companies strive to stand out. If that’s what a company strives to do, it makes sense that it would be a quality looked for among employees. If you want to be a nurse, think of something stronger and more specific in an interview than “I like to help people” when asked why you want to pursue nursing. If you want to be an engineer, think of something less obvious than “I like to build things.”

At the end of the day, standing out is what attracts the spotlight. When you understand standing out, whether as a business or an employee, in a positive way is what sets you apart and gives you a leg up, you’ll embrace the spotlight and feel your confidence and competitive edge strengthen to the point that others can’t imagine anyone being a better choice than you.

Save the cookie cutters for making holiday goodies, not for your interview responses.

Author: Evelyn Lindell