8 Steps to Mastering Your Interview

8 Steps to Mastering Your Interview

You’ve got the interview; now find out what you need to know to make one of the most important steps in the job searching process a success. We have the tips and advice on how to prepare for the big moment and how to put you in control of your own career destiny.

1. Be prepared.

The way you prepare for an interview is the first example that shows the interviewer how you’ll prepare for the actual job.

Read the trade papers and know what challenges are facing the employers and the industry at the moment. Being pro-active in this crucial step will yield a large amount of benefits. Thanks to the internet, a lot of basic information will be available at the company’s own Website. But don’t discount the value of talking to people you may already know who work at the company. Try to get a feel, not only for the management style, but also for the corporate culture.

2. Practice your presentation.

Remember the old saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression”?

First impressions do count so prepare to arrive early, and make sure you give yourself enough time for traffic and parking so you can be composed, not flustered. Try to match your wardrobe to the personal style of the organization, information you probably would have been able to glean from talking to someone who works there or while visiting the site. If you don’t know what their style is, err on the side of conservative. Pay attention to your handshake. You should strive for something firm and assertive without being aggressive. But the best interview tip of all is: Remember to look your interviewer in the eyes. Good eye contact always displays confidence.

3. Make a good impression.

It’s up to you, the interviewee, to come with a strong sense of who you are and what you can contribute to the company. Knowing this before you walk in the door is essential.

After some initial small talk, the interviewer will ask you questions about you, your professional goals, and accomplishments. This is your opportunity to let yourself shine.

Make your career goals clear. Make it easy for the interviewer to see how your strengths can enhance their company and what you will bring to the table. If you have experience that isn’t specifically relevant to the job at hand, create a tapestry to show how the multitude of experience you have is an asset you are bringing to the company.

4. Ask questions.

Let’s remember that the interview process is not a one-way street. Asking questions is the only way you’re going to find out if the job and the environment is really a good match for you.

This is also where good research comes in. Make sure to ask questions that show that you are knowledgeable about the company and the challenges they are facing now or in the future. Two or three well thought out questions shows that you are serious about pursuing a career at that company. Try not to ask questions that may put the interviewer on the defensive.

5. Practice answering the tough questions.

By this time, you probably know there are always tough questions on an interview. But by practicing and thinking about your answers before you walk through their doors, you can eliminate some anxiety. Some of the standard hard questions that have found their ways into interviews include:

• What is your biggest weakness?
• What was the most disappointing project you worked on professionally and why?
• What was your most difficult work experience?
• What was your greatest challenge in your last job?
• How do you handle criticism?

The key in answering all of these is to be honest with yourself. Everyone has weaknesses, but make sure that when you answer the question that you show how you’re using that to turn it into a positive situation for yourself and the employer. Remember that one person’s description of being compulsive can also be seen as being a perfectionist and someone who pays attention to detail.

6. Keep it positive and peppy.

The tone of the interview is one of the most important communication tools you have. No matter what past professional experiences or co-workers and bosses may have been like, always express each situation in a positive light and explain what you learned from it. Nothing erodes confidence faster than negativity. Be aware of your words, your tone of voice, and your body language. Being energetic, not lethargic, shows you’ll bring enthusiasm and confidence to the job.

7. Be prepared for the money question.

Don’t ask about money until an actual offer is made and the employer brings it up. This is definitely where research comes in handy. Find out what the industry average is for the position and don’t forget to account for educational and regional differences. It’s always better to mention a range rather than a specific number. Usually salaries are based on two things: what others are already making in a particular department and your current salary.

8. Follow up with a thank you.

You’ve had a great interview, but don’t forget one of the most crucial steps: following up. Send a hand written thank you letter to everyone you meet whether you want the job or not. It’s a small world and you never know when you may meet that person again. Ask for business cards and make sure to spell the person’s name correctly.

Ask the interviewer what type of timetable they’re working on. That will give you a good idea as to what the next step is.

And remember no matter what happens, by remembering these eight basic steps you’re already on the road to mastering your own career success.

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