"I personally think they look for someone who makes impact and strives to make change, no matter how small, wherever they go. They want to know what they stand to gain by accepting you. " --That's exactly right! You just have to be able to convince the interviewer of this. That's the hard part:)
The folks who have already weighed in already touched on a few super important qualities: good communication, proven leadership ability, etc.
Here's my two cents:
1. Your value proposition to the employer or school completely depends on the position you're applying for, company you want to work at, or school you're hoping to attend. You must be thoughtful about those things when you're figuring out your value prop prior to the interview. For example, if you're interviewing for a Community Manager role at a nonprofit you have to clearly convey how your past experiences cater to this role, why you're passionate about community building, and craft a story around how community has played a significant role in your life.
2. Be able to articulate how you're a proactive problem solver. Have prepared a story or two about how you were able to creatively solve a problem (big or small) and how it impacted what you were working on and/or the people around you.
3. Never underestimate the power of story telling! Whether it's in an essay or an in person interview, your ability to tell your own story in the context of what you're applying for/speaking to will go a LONG WAY. Employers, for example, will ask super open ended things like "so tell me about yourself" (I ask it every time I interview someone!) and what they're looking for is a clear, concise and compelling story about who you are and why you're here, talking about this job at this company. You've got to be able to "start at the beginning" and come full circle in a way that holds your audience without boring them.. and the only way to do that is to practice. I recommend doing a couple exercises-- write out a timeline that includes things like where you were born, where you went to HS (and college, if applicable), what jobs you've held, volunteer opportunities you've participated in, and where you hope to end up one day. Then, answer the following questions in more detail to give these timeline events more color, personality and context.
Here are a few questions you can answer to help you get started:
-Where were you born and raised?
-Who raised you and what are they like?
-How did this^ influence you?
-What jobs have you held? What did you learn doing those jobs?
-What are your aspirations in life? What does your life look like in 10 years when you close your eyes and try to visualize it?
...and the list goes on:)
Last updated Dec 03 '17 at 19:17
This professional recommends the following next steps:
Figure out what your own story is and practice telling it!
Prove you can problem solve proactively and creatively. Think about and write down a few examples of this to have on hand.