6 Essential Tips to Success in Your Next Job Interview

Working in management for several years, I have seen the best and worst ways to approach a job interview. Here are some essentials to bringing the wow-factor to your next job interview. They start from even before you apply for the job.

  1. Do some research, and figure out who/when/where to apply to. A quick phone call with the following questions is a must. "I would apply for such-and-such position. Who would I direct my cover letter to? What is the best time for me to drop it off, or do you prefer applications to be sent online?" This takes less than 5 minutes and makes a world of difference. Now, you no longer need a nameless "To Whom It May Concern" cover letter - you are in the know. You have also upped your chances because you know when management will be in, the best way to get your resume, application and cover letter in to them.
  2. Research the company before you write your cover letter. A canned, template cover letter and resume are probably not going to get you noticed in a highly competitive situation. Research the company; find out their values, what they do, and how they do it. Now tailor your resume and cover letter so that you're highlighting the qualifications and beliefs you have that make you their prime candidate.
  3. Dress professionally. I don't care if you're interviewing to work at McDonald's - dress the part! This means looking professional for the role you are to fill. I prefer simple, black and gray tailored outfits, a modest but amazing pair of shoes, manicured hands, and polished hair. Of course, dressing the part will vary depending on the job, but never be afraid of looking too professional, because the alternative is not good.
  4. Arrive early. I don't mean an hour, but 10 or 15 minutes early. This gives you a chance to sit awkwardly, waiting. No, seriously, it gives you a chance to breathe and mentally prepare yourself.
  5. Shake their hand. Not only shake their hand, but know how to shake hands properly. Some people think that a good handshake is dependent on a death grip. Not the case. Sometimes men offer a weak handshake to women because they are afraid to hurt them. A too-strong or too-weak handshake are both to be avoided. To do a proper handshake, offer them your hand and your goal is to have your palm securely touch against their palm. Your second goal is to look into their eyes - what color is the person's eyes? Ask yourself that, to remind yourself about how important eye contact is. Your third and final goal is to smile. In all of this, the strength of the handshake is not the most important component. It is how all of the components tie together to show the most confident, secure and put together version of you in the first impression you create.
  6. Have questions prepared in advance. At the end of most interviews, the potential employer will say "Do you have any questions for me?" Smile, open up a professional looking portfolio/folder and say "I wrote them down so I wouldn't forget." In every interview that I have done this, the employer's mouth drops, then they smile and profess how impressed they are. Having really good questions, that show you have put some active thought into what the company does and how they do it, is seriously the clincher. In many cases, it's not what you know, but what you want to know that truly seals the deal.

Some of these things may seem like common knowledge, but combining them altogether create a great overall affect and you're sure to wow them.

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Posted on Dec 30, 2009