Fact Checked

How do I get an Interview When Hundreds of People are Applying for the Job?

Brad Cole
Brad Cole

Many jobs are highly sought after in the modern workplace. Competition for a single position can come regionally, nationally, and even internationally with the advent of online human resource departments and electronic applications. So how is it possible to get an interview when hundreds of people are applying for the same job?

Getting an interview comes down to an applicant giving a favorable enough impression to the person granting interviews that the applicant receives one. There is no specific formula for doing this, and each job opening will require a custom approach in order to be successful. The following are tips for how to get an interview that should be helpful in most situations.

Clothes for an interview.
Clothes for an interview.

Research what qualifications the person hiring is really looking for. What, specifically, does the hiring entity want in the new employee? Research on the position specific to the company should be done prior to applying so that a resume can be tailored to the position. Search the internet for stories of other people who have applied at that company or for similar jobs; talk to people currently working at the company if possible.

Many open jobs have intense competition, with hundreds of applicants responding.
Many open jobs have intense competition, with hundreds of applicants responding.

Companies often make very broad qualification requests concerning job openings, when in reality they want someone with a specific education level or certification. A job opening for a lab assistant might read that the minimum education level is a high school diploma in reality, the person hiring might only be looking for someone with an associate’s degree, as a higher education level could require more pay due to company standards and a lower education levels might require more training.

Have contacts within the company assist you. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” remains true even in the modern workplace. Whether you know people through college, a professional organization, or are related, having someone well thought of in a company vouch for your abilities means you are much more likely to get an interview. At the very least, that person can give you a letter of recommendation that will lend weight to your application; in a best case scenario, they can talk to someone in human resources and get you an interview.

Clearly display your qualifications on your resume. Don’t just send in a generic resume; make sure the one you send clearly shows that you fulfill all of the qualifications for the position. If you don’t have the necessary qualifications displayed, you won’t get an interview.

Submit an impressive cover letter. The cover letter allows an applicant to set themselves apart from the other potential hires by specifically addressing why they would excel at the job. Let the potential employer know specifically why you are the best choice for the job and why you are deserving of an interview.

Remove limiting words from your resume and application. Certain words or phrases may disqualify you from a position, so remove them from your resume if possible. Don’t specify salary requirements unless absolutely necessary; asking for too much or too little could remove your application from the potential hire pile. If you are willing to travel for the job, put that down; don’t mention it if you are only willing to travel occasionally or within a limited distance.

Follow up on the application. If possible and permitted, contact a prospective employer roughly a week after the application deadline has passed. Some HR people wait to give out interviews until prospective hires follow up on their applications, believing the follow-up proves who really wants the job. This practice has gone out of favor with the sheer volume of applications many companies receive, so check the job posting to see if following up on an application is appropriate. Don’t harass the company – simply call or email once if the contact information was supplied on the job posting and it is appropriate.

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Discussion Comments


I agree with that and I also think that you have to have questions for your job interview prepared because after the interviewer finishes and you don’t have any questions it almost looks like you are not interested in the company or did not take the time to learn about the position. I normally just jot down a few questions while I am doing my research so that this does not happen to me.

I think that getting ready for an interview is important because there will be a part of you that will be nervous but if you prepare ahead of time you will come across as more confident.


@Latte31 - That is a great idea. I also think that some people have had success calling the company directly. If you know a little about the company and can tell them how you can help them they might be intrigued enough to give you an interview.

This is very unconventional, but it also shows that you are a take charge person and it might be what the company is looking for. If you are granted an interview, you have to practice your interview skills and practice the answer to every difficult question you can imagine.

You also want to highlight your accomplishments and demonstrate how you are able to help the company. I think that that is so important. I used to work as a human resource manger and although I did the initial interviews for the company, if the candidate could not tell me how he or she would help our company, or why I should hire him or her, I would not grant them a second interview with the department manager.

I think that people underestimate the importance of interview preparation.


@Cafe41 - I agree with the networking idea. I used to be a recruiter and we filled most of our technical job openings by going to user groups in order to recruit people from different jobs that we had available.

These were usually very high quality recruits because they were involved in an industry meeting on their own time which demonstrated their interest in the field.

So if you belong to a group or decide to join a professional business group via social media outlets it could be a great choice because you can network with people at home and they will often let you know what jobs are available.

They usually send you emails regarding jobs that they have available, but you have to subscribe to that group via email first. My husband is happy at his job, but he gets tons of emails about other jobs that are available all of the time and he also stays on top of his industry this way.


I was watching a news segment that was discussing how to get a job interview and they stated that most of the companies hire people that are referred to them.

They added that networking is really the key to getting a job interview because the majority of the available jobs go unadvertised. Sometimes it is just a matter of going to an industry function or to a meeting

I think that the problem is that companies get so many resumes that many do not even look at most of them. If you get a referral it is a lot easier to get your foot in the door then just sending out a resume. In the news story they said that about 2% of resumes are considered for interviews which is why a lot of people can't get an interview when they rely on this method.

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    • Clothes for an interview.
      By: Elnur
      Clothes for an interview.
    • Many open jobs have intense competition, with hundreds of applicants responding.
      By: nyul
      Many open jobs have intense competition, with hundreds of applicants responding.