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Successful Job Interview Tips, Advice and Techniques

Successful Job Interview Tips, Advice and Techniques

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A job interview can be intimidating, whether you're a first-time job seeker or a job market veteran. However, if you know what information your interviewer is looking for, what questions to ask, and how to answer job interview questions, your interview can be a snap. Here are some tips on what to do before, during and after your interview.

Extra resource: How to answer the interview question "Tell Me About Yourself"

Before the interview

Woman At Computer With PapersResearch the Company

Regardless if your interview is for a fast-food place or a political canvasing company, researching the company is one of the best things you can do to prepare for your first interview, and any interview to come. Knowing what the company is doing now, and what it is planning on doing in the future, will help you to know what they are looking for. You can then tailor your answers to show that you can fill their needs.

Review Some Common Interview Questions

Do this, and come up with good answers to these questions before you even think about walking into your interview. Write down notes you can refer to, and practice rehearsing your answers.

Some of the most common job interview questions and some good answer techniques are available at the bottom of this article (See: How to Answer Common Interview Questions). Here are a few of them:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What can you offer the company?
  • What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is an accomplishment you're proud of?
  • What activities do you pursue?

Keep in mind that interviews are not only a way for a potential employer to get to know you, but also a way for them to test you. To give the best job interview, you should demonstrate that you're willing to align yourself to the company's needs, and that you know what those needs are.

Practice Your Interview

Before you go to an actual job interview, you may opt to go through a mock interview with a friend, parent or spouse. Have them ask you basic interview questions, and act the same way you would in the real interview, phrasing your answers so they're clear and concise. Afterward, your mock interviewer can give you feedback on improving your interview skills -- feedback your real interviewer won't give you.

Plan How You Will Dress for Your Interview

Regardless of the company, business attire is best, or as close to it as you can get. Men, wear a button-up shirt, tie, slacks and sport coat, and dress shoes. Women, a skirt suit or pant suit and nice shoes. Stick to dark, neutral, cool colors like black, gray or navy.

Even though it may seem a little overboard to dress up for a job interview at a smaller business, like a supermarket or a restaurant, dressing in business attire earns you big points in any situation. It will set you apart from other candidates who decided not to put in the extra effort, and it will help with your first impression. Click here for tips about dressing well on a low budget.

During the job interview

Be as Professional as Possible

It's a good idea to arrive about 10 minutes early, in case your interviewer finishes what they were doing early. First, introduce yourself with a short, confident handshake. Smile and make eye contact, and sit with a professional, attentive demeanor that tells the interviewer you are listening. If you do this upon meeting your interviewer, you've already made a good first impression, and the rest of the interview will be much easier.

Anticipate Their Needs, Show You can Fill Them

This is the most important part of interviewing for a job. During the interview, keep your ears open for things the interviewer says that hint at needs they have. Then, when you answer questions, demonstrate that you can fill those needs.

Does the job involve interacting with clients? Maybe you have great customer service skills. Does the work environment get hectic at certain times of the day? Maybe you're a good multi-tasker. Will you be managing customer accounts or handling large amounts of data? Maybe you've done something similar in the past. Anything you can point out about yourself that is useful to them is one more reason for them to hire you over someone else.

Some quick Dos and Don'ts

Don't lean on the table, fidget with your hands, or try to act cocky or overly talkative during the interview. These things send negative signals that employers pick up on.

Don't avoid eye contact or let your nervousness show. The more calm and confident you act, the more you will feel that way, and they'll notice it.

Do think about what you are going to say before you say it, and know what you're interested in hearing about the job. Organized thinking earns you more points.

Do ask a question or two about the company, to find out more and to show you're interested. Click here to see some good questions to ask at an interview. Answer their questions the way you practiced, and at the end of the interview, thank your interviewer for their time.

Plan the Next Step

One last step you can take that will guarantee you leave the interview in a positive light is to plan the next step of the hiring process then and there. Ask when they'd like to schedule your second interview, or if they aren't doing second interviews, ask when they would like you to contact them again. Arranging the next step of the process establishes you as a responsible go-getter, and gives you a working plan of how to proceed. This is far better than the passive, wait-and-see approach.

After the interview

Send a Thank-You Letter

Job InterviewAfter the job interview, you may want to send a thank-you letter to your interviewer by e-mail or standard mail. Write a brief (a few sentences) letter thanking them for the opportunity, pointing out one or two further reasons why you are the right choice for their position, and saying you look forward to working there. This letter is more important for more "professional" companies, where a higher level of formality is expected, than it is for food service or retail positions -- but it doesn't hurt in either case.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you can ace your first interview, and almost any interview to come.

Liked this? Try these...

How to answer common interview questions:

"Tell me about yourself"

"Why should I hire you?"

"What is your best skill?"

"What do you know about the company?"

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