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Tips to Ace That Job Interview

Interviewing successfully with a company is much more than just showing up. Factors like promptness, neatness, ability to speak clearly, and being able to answer questions on the fly, all contribute to the impression you give to your potential employer.

The first tip starts even before you show up for your interview. Before you walk through the door, do your research on the company, the position for which you are applying, and even the hiring manager or whoever is interviewing you. Showing that you took the trouble to understand the company before the interview will make a very positive impression. You’ll be able to make your responses to questions apply to the company and to the open position.

How to do this research? Review the company’s website, Google the company for any news stories or articles, find out the company’s competitors, products, and locations. Look up professional associations for the company’s industry. And become familiar with the industry, if you are not already.

Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies List
Inc.’s Fastest Growing Companies in America

To research the open position, peruse the jobs the company has listed, and access an org chart if you can. If the job you are applying for is, say, IT Tech 3, you will know there are at least two levels above you.

To research your interviewer, again look for their name in the company research you do, look them up on LinkedIn, and even Google them.

Use your research to prepare a few knowledgeable questions about the company and its culture, management style, organization, and even growth plans or successful product launches.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Look up the most commonly asked interview questions (you can Google this as well), and practice answering them. If you can, don’t just do it in your head, have someone help you by interviewing you. The most difficult questions are the most open-ended: Where do you see yourself five years from now? What’s your biggest fault? How would you define success? Develop answers to these, because you’ll be sure to be hit with at least two or three in the interview.

Don’t forget your accomplishments. If you performed well in your previous job, tell a specific story as an example. Keep it short, but make sure it shows how well you did, without simply bragging.

Dress Appropriately
Dress for success, and dress so that you fit in with the company. If you can, visit the company, or the parking lot as people leave at the end of the day. You want to dress like the people you see, but perhaps a little nicer. It’s always better to be overdressed than under. Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free; that they fit you; that they are not sexy; and keep jewelry and make-up to a minimum. Don’t eat prior to going in for the interview, and in fact, brush your teeth first.

Don’t Be on Time; Be Early
Arrive about 15 minutes early for your interview. You may have to wait longer, but it gives you a chance to relax a bit, observe the company, be calm when you go in to the interview, and be available if the interviewer is ready early. A good first impression!

Be polite and greet each person you meet. When your interviewer arrives, stand, make eye contact, and have a firm, dry handshake.

Check Your Bad Habits
This is hard to see by yourself, so ask a friend to help you. Do you unconsciously interrupt the other person? Remember not to slouch, chew gum, fidget, hold your hand in front of your mouth, mumble, stare off into the distance, touch your face, or any other potentially annoying mannerism.

You want to make eye contact, sit up straight, nod, and show that you are paying attention, and that you are actively listening.

Thank Your Interviewer
As your interview closes, thank your interviewer for their time and interest, and get their business card if you can. If not, make sure you have their name and title. Also thank anyone else who participated in your interview.

After your interview, send a thank-you email, and mail a thank-you note to each person. Check your spelling, especially for their names and titles! Courtesy, thoughtfulness, and thoroughness will make you stand well above the crowd of applicants.

This may all seem like a lot of trouble, but that’s exactly what the interviewer is looking for. They want to hire someone who will make a lot of effort at his or her job, be detail-oriented, self-starting, and not a human resources nightmare.

The more effort you put in to the interview process and follow-up, the greater positive results you’ll see.

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