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The best way to 'instantly impress' any hiring manager, according to an HR exec who's hired thousands over 21 years at IBM

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Nickle LaMoreaux, IBM's chief human resources officer, has helped hire thousands of job candidates since joining the tech giant more than 20 years ago. While there's no such thing as the perfect interview, she recalls one applicant who came pretty close — and it was thanks to an act as simple as sending a thoughtful follow-up email with proof of their recent work.

As LaMoreaux remembers, she interviewed the candidate right before IBM released its annual earnings report. While the candidate was "articulate" and "well-prepared" for their meeting, the hiring committee was still considering several applicants in their search.

But hours after the IBM report became public, the candidate sent a game-changing email.

"They sent me a note outlining their four key takeaways about IBM from the report, from an outsider's perspective, tying in their past experiences and asking about the different technologies we were producing at the time," she tells CNBC Make It. "I was instantly impressed." 

The candidate got the job.

While you may not need to learn to read an earnings report to a land a job, LaMoreaux says all applicants can boost their chances of getting hired by being proactive and sending examples of their work to the hiring manager after an interview. 

It's even more impactful when you can connect your work sample to a project the company is currently working on, or a specific goal the hiring manager mentioned.

"There's nothing like seeing an actual piece of work, whether it's a detailed presentation you put together for a meeting or a link to your online portfolio," she says. "It's a substantial piece of evidence that can help prove you're the best fit for the job."

Another way to make a strong first impression during an interview: Ask how the company is aiming to live up to its credo and how managers are working to improve certain aspects of the business. 

"I love getting asked questions that dig deep into our organization," LaMoreaux says. "For example, a candidate once said to me, 'You say that IBM values transparency and diversity. Can you give me an example of how the company is working toward those goals?'" 

You can also ask the interviewer if you can speak with two new hires "off the record" about their onboarding experience. Such conversations will not only help you better assess the role and the company, but it demonstrates a strong interest — and willingness — to learn the ins and outs of the organization, LaMoreaux says. 

Asking thoughtful questions and showing initiative, she adds, demonstrates that you are "really engaged" during the interview and excited about the role — and brings you one step closer to securing a job offer. 

Check out:

The top 10 industries job-seekers want to work in right now, according to new research

The No. 1 mistake people make when applying for jobs, according to Microsoft's head of recruiting

How to negotiate your first salary, according to a career coach

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