8 Tips to Ace an Interview

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You have the interview for the job of your dreams. Or maybe it’s just a job that will pay the rent. Regardless, you want to do the best you can, and here are a few tips:

1. Make sure you do not let your current employer know you’re interviewing. Yes, you’re smart enough not to walk into your boss’ office and announce it, but your superiors are used to looking for signs of interviewing. Unless you’re in a profession where suits are commonplace — like trial lawyers with court appearances — you’re going to have to disguise what you’re doing.

Hiding your jacket in your car or in a locker is a good first step. Ditto shoes that are much nicer than what you usually wear. Try to interview during your lunch hour and the time surrounding it if possible. You might also be able to schedule first thing in the morning before you have to be in your office, or at the end of the day. When scheduling, it can’t hurt to ask. Put the request in terms of being as fair to your current employer as you can be, and you’ll win points even if they can’t accommodate you.

2. Human resource personnel are familiar with interviewing, but many times the others involved in the process are not.  The HR department is also compensated specifically to interview you, whereas the others you meet with are probably not.  So keep in mind that the person on the other side of the desk might have no clue what he or she is looking for in a candidate and may be distracted by pressing work issues.

Also worth keeping in mind is that the person might view you as competition or a threat to their position.

These can be factors at every level of position in a company.

What can you do? Read on!

3. Make things easier for your interviewer by pointing out personality traits that almost every employer is looking for. No one wants someone, for example, who has no energy or enthusiasm left for their career.  It might seem heavy-handed, but cut to the chase and let them know you love your career, are enthusiastic about continuing to learn, and are motivated to do the best you can if you join their company.

This will make the conversation flow more smoothly and hopefully help you get to the core discussion more quickly: You do want to learn about them, too, right?

4. Be prepared to point out specific, relevant items from your resume that support your candidacy. Do not assume that the interviewer has read your resume. In some cases he or she received it as you were walking into the room.  Or not at all.

5. If you sense that the person you’re interviewing might view you as competition — if, for example, you will be joining their team as an equal or maybe even as their superior — make sure they know that you will value their support if you join the company. Point out how your skills and theirs complement each other.

6. Keep in mind what you would be looking for if you were interviewing for the position.  Volunteer as much of that information as possible, again with as many specifics as possible from your resume.

7. Make sure you don’t ramble and you answer the questions fully yet succinctly.  You don’t want to seem like you’re hiding anything, but you also want to make sure you give the interviewer time to ask more questions and that you have a true dialogue.

Don’t assume that the various interviewers are comparing notes between sessions. Start fresh with each new person unless told differently.

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8. Don’t forget the basics!

• Do your research about the company: Do not ask simple questions you can easily find the answers to online. Instead, take what you learn online and bring it to the next level. For example: “I read about your new marketing initiative. How do you think that will affect this position?”

• Dress well. It’s basic, but always worth noting. “Well” is different for different positions and professions, but rarely will you go wrong if you overdress.

• Be on time. If you live in a city with terrible traffic, find a nearby coffee shop to hang out in so you don’t arrive at the office more than 5 minutes early.

• Always be polite to everyone you speak with. If the receptionist is grouchy, still be polite. If you run into a brick wall with one of the people you meet with, soldier on and brush it off before your next meeting.

What interview tips do you have to share?

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