How to perform successfully at a job interview

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Going on a job interview can be both exciting and frightening. With good jobs relatively scarce these days, and many applicants typically applying for those jobs, it is extremely important that you go into an interview confident, prepared and ready to impress the interviewer. You need to distinguish yourself from the other candidates and convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job.

Basics of a job interview

There are two basic components to an interview. You are looking for a job and the interviewer is looking for a qualified candidate to fill a position. In some instances, the interviewer likes what he or she sees during the initial interview and extends a job offer. In other instances, the interviewer is interested but wants to learn more and invites the candidate back for a second, even a third interview. Either way, the job candidate has to win the interviewer over, no matter how many interviews it takes.

Preparing for the interview

Before going on an interview, there are several things you should do to increase your chances of impressing the interviewer. Start by matching your qualifications to the job. If you have a copy of the job description, read each requirement carefully. Then match your qualifications to those requirements. Be ready with several strong examples of your skills, education and experience to discuss at the interview, examples that highlight your ability to do the job.

Researching the company

Heavily research the company before the interview. Check out the company’s product, market, mission, current events and also its culture. Are you a good fit? Armed with knowledge about the company will demonstrate your interest in the job. Lack of knowledge will show lack of interest and can quickly eliminate you from the running.

Perfecting your interviewing skills

Strong interviewing skills are necessary to succeed at an interview. Practice your skills as much as possible. Do face-to-face or Skype-interviewing with friends and family. Practice in front of a mirror to check for presentation and body language. Try to “visualize” yourself at the actual interview. Also participate in mock interviews. Many colleges and career centers offer help with interviewing skills, including mock interviewing.

Going to the interview

First impressions are critical. Decisions are often made in those first few minutes. Start by arriving on time. Showing up late tells the interviewer you either don’t care that much or you have poor time management skills, both which are a turn-off.

Dress appropriately for the job. If unsure, lean toward conservative. Go light on makeup, cologne, jewelry and accessories. Cover tattoos and body piercings. Remember – the interviewer is looking for someone to represent his or her company. Also, turn off your cell phone and other gadgets and put them out of sight.

Go in with a positive attitude. Greet everyone politely and with a smile, whether an interviewer or not. When you do meet the interviewer, offer a firm handshake and make direct eye contact. Never appear arrogant.

During the interview

Body language is important. Sit tall. Look interested. Stay focused on the interviewer. Don’t let your eyes wonder. Don’t make idle chitchat. No matter how nervous or bored, avoid fidgeting, squirming, nail-biting and other inappropriate behaviors.

Handling interview questions

Be prepared to answer a lot of questions and be ready with some good answers. Interview questions can be difficult, often meant to purposely throw you off guard. The interviewer may be looking to see how well you handle yourself under stress. Being prepared for those tough questions is your best defense. There are numerous online sites that offer sample interview questions and answers.

Have some job-related questions to ask the interviewer. Do not ask about salary and benefits. You want to impress the interviewer that you are more interested in the opportunity than the money. Do have a reasonable idea of what you are expecting. If you really want the job, don’t overprice yourself.

Misrepresenting yourself

Never misrepresent yourself during an interview. If you can’t answer a question adequately, don’t fudge or lie. Tell the interviewer you can’t answer the question as presented and try to come up with something similar or related that may work.

Ending the interview

You want to leave a good impression at the end of the interview, just as you did at the beginning. End on a positive, confident note. Let the interviewer know you want the job. Before leaving, again offer a firm handshake. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and say you look forward to the next step. Shortly after the interview, send a thank-you letter to the interviewer, again reiterating your strong interest in the job.

Interviews can be grueling and interviewers can be intimidating. By going into an interview as well-prepared and confident as possible, you significantly increase your chances of impressing the interviewer and getting a job offer.








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    • Linda Cann Pearson

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