How to Ace Your Job Interviews

By Samantha Chang

Job Interview TipsAny time of year is a good time to review career options and look around for new jobs. When trying to land an offer, it’s important to make the right impression. Here are some tips for acing every interview.

  • Do your homework. Just as you would study for a test, it’s crucial to do some research on your prospective employer before you meet with them. Find out exactly what kind of industry the company is in, its corporate culture and what your job duties will entail. Knowledge is power, so the more you know about the company, the better, says Bonnie Lowe, author of The Job Interview Success System. Preparation is key for exuding a competent, confident image.
  • Be on time. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people miss this one. You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression, so make sure you arrive on time. Nothing looks more unprofessional than being late; it shows a lack of time management and respect for other people’s schedules. If you are running late, make sure you call ahead and let the interviewer know you’re behind schedule.
  • Dress appropriately. This too may seem obvious, but many interviewees inadvertently break this rule. Always err on the side of formality. This means wear a suit and minimal makeup and jewelry. It’s important to look groomed and neat. “The way you dress in an interview says, ‘I respect your position enough for me to dress up even if the company is business casual,'” according to Arthur Drago of Florida-based recruiting firm Strategic Alliance Group.
  • Don’t badmouth your current employer. Few things make a worse impression on prospective employers than hearing a candidate trash-talk a current employer. Recruiters see major red flags when an applicant harbors ill-will toward current or former employers. They’re likely to label you a malcontent who’d soon find things wrong with their workplace. Besides, these days you never know who-knows-whom, and it’s best to not appear vindictive or mean-spirited.
  • Be courteous to support staff. If you’re rude to support staff, you can be sure the hiring manager will eventually hear about it. Anyone can act polite to a potential boss, but mistreating an administrative assistant speaks volumes about the kind of person the applicant is. “An overblown sense of entitlement can lead to a variety of candidate misbehaviors that will kill your chances,” according to Mark Jaffe, president of Minneapolis recruiters Wyatt & Jaffe. Consider every contact with the company a part of your interview process.
  • Be enthusiastic and sell yourself. Never underestimate the role a positive attitude plays in the hiring process. Everyone—even the office curmudgeon—wants to work with enthusiastic, upbeat people. Don’t give off a Debbie Downer-esque vibe.
  • Never argue with the interviewer. Remember that your goal is to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job. If you disagree with something he or she says, don’t make an issue of it. Just say, “I understand how you feel,” and move on.
  • Have collateral materials on hand. Make sure you bring an extra copy of your resume to the appointment, as well as any ancillary items you may need, such as a portfolio or writing samples, etc. Even if the interviewer never asks to see them, it’s best to have them handy just in case.
  • Have job references available. You may be asked to complete a detailed job application, including a list of references, so make sure you have contact details ready.
  • Don’t get too familiar with the interviewer. Always remain professional and courteous. Even if the interviewer makes a joke or an off-color remark, do not “break character.” The interview is a meeting to talk about business, not about making a new friend. Play the Ultimate Professional and you’ll be sure to make a winning impression.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note. Your prospective employer is seeing other candidates for the job. Therefore, you want to make a positive lasting impression on them long after your initial meeting. Make sure you send everyone you interviewed with a cordial thank-you note shortly after your appointment.

Looking for work can be exhausting and disappointing, but these interviewing tips will help move you closer to landing your dream job. Happy hunting!

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