To perfect your interviewing skills, you're going to have to do your homework. Brandon Santulli took this to heart, and it helped him ace an interview with the CEO of his dream company, in an industry where he had no experience.
In 2015, Santulli graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics but he quickly realized he wanted an entirely different career. "A couple years after graduating, I knew I wanted to enter the world of tech — despite my non-tech major," he says. "Once I found out I landed an Executive Assistant interview with WayUp's CEO, I knew I'd have to get creative in order to get my foot in the door."
Santulli was determined to make a great impression on Liz Wessel, the CEO of job search platform WayUp. "I wasn't about to take 30 minutes with Liz for granted, so to stand out and prove I was serious about this opportunity, I decided to learn as much as possible about her," he says.
Indeed, Santulli scoured the internet and read every interview Wessel had ever conducted. "During my daily runs the week before the interview, I listened to every podcast Liz was featured on, taking mental notes of peculiar facts," he says.
After reading dozens of articles and nine separate podcasts, he walked away with two seemingly innocuous facts that would turn out to be his secret weapons for landing the job: her socks never match, and she studied Japanese.
On the day of the interview, Santulli was prepared for anything. After answering the typical interview questions he asked Wessel, "I was just wondering, do you still wear mismatched socks every day?"
Wessel was taken aback and said, "I do. Great research."
"Well, after hearing you talk about it on a podcast, I thought I'd give it a try today," said Santulli before showing off his own mismatched pair of socks.
After the interview, Santulli sent a follow-up email and signed off with "Arigatou Gozaimasu," which means "thank you" in Japanese.
"I was incredibly surprised, but immensely impressed by the research he must have done," says Wessel. "This 'sock stint' showed me that Brandon did in-depth research before coming in — not just a quick Google search — and that he was so enthusiastic about landing the job that he even showed it with his outfit choice."
Needless to say, Santulli got the job.
When he found out, Santulli says he couldn't have been happier. "I was ecstatic, and thrilled to see that my in-depth interview prep had paid off," he says. "To make a lasting impression — especially as a new grad with limited work experience — you need to differentiate yourself outside of work experience, which I was able to do!"
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!