How to Ace an Interview

Our post last week on Tips for PR Professionals received so many hits, that I thought our readers would enjoy some more information for job seekers in this economy. We all know that the job market out there is weak at best. With more people applying for the same position, job-seekers need to be one step ahead of their competition.

So say one of the thousands of resumes you send out results in an interview. Yay! Now what? We all know that interviews can be daunting. Some people spend hours upon hours agonizing over those questions that you know you are going to be asked: “Tell me about yourself”, or “What is your biggest weakness?”

I have done some searching and found some great tips on how to ace an interview from sites like CareerBuilder.com and the Online Education Database. There are a ton of resources out there for those looking for employment. The key is to narrow down the most credible sources and go from there.

  • Show you are confident, even if you have to fake it. – Have confidence. If you are frustrated with your job search, don’t let that negativity show to the employer. Your pessimism can be a turnoff. Even if it’s a temporary attitude brought on by rejection, the hiring manager might think it’s your overall attitude. After all, you made it to the interview didn’t you?
  • Don’t apologize for being out of work. – A layoff can happen to anyone. What do you do if it happens to you? Don’t be ashamed — in today’s climate, layoffs occur (unfortunately) daily. Many job seekers are in your shoes. Don’t apologize. Instead, focus on the job you are interviewing for by showcasing your skills and exhibiting how you are the best fit.
  • Target your job search. – While you don’t need to possess every single skill listed on a posting, you should at least be qualified for the position and prove that you have transferable skills. Your targeted résumé will help prove you’re a serious candidate and have the right qualifications for the position. If you’re spending time applying for jobs you’re not qualified for, you’re wasting valuable time you could be devoting to a position that’s a better fit. If you recognize where your strengths lie and what transferable skills you possess, you’ll see better results than if you apply to any posting you come across.
  • Get primed. – “Tell me what you know about the company” or “Why would you fit in well here?” have become staple interview questions, so don’t be caught off guard. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, “I don’t know” isn’t going to score you points. Look at the company’s Web site and read press releases and newspaper articles to see what’s going on with your prospective future boss. In addition to prepare for the interview, you’ll learn whether the company and its culture are a right fit for you.
  • They don’t want to hear what you think they want to hear – Interviewers have gotten very smart to picking up if someone’s spewing something they’ve memorized from a book. By only saying what they think the employer wants to hear, job candidates are simply putting on an act, and employers can see right through that. You have to be yourself in an interview and you have to be sincere.
  • They don’t expect you to have all the answers – Employers are more interested in how you find answers to things you don’t know than if you pretend to know something you don’t. In some cases, the interviewer may ask a question that he or she doesn’t expect you to be able to answer simply to see how you handle it. If you ever find that you don’t know the answer to an interviewer’s question, the best thing to do is to admit that you don’t know, but either add that you could give an educated guess or provide a way you might go about finding the answer. Most important, if you don’t know, don’t try to fake it. Not knowing is OK. Making something up or pretending to know is not.
  • They want you to want them – You need to express genuine interest in the job or the company. As much as the recruiter wants to sell the candidate on the position and company, the recruiter also wants to know that the candidate actually wants to work in that position or for that company.
  • Ask questions – You may be attentive, but if you don’t understand something, politely ask for clarification. Ask questions about the company culture and general questions than an interviewer has not mentioned yet. Prepare 5-6 questions to ask before your interview. Most interviewers will ask “do you have any questions?” You should ask a question relating to something that was discussed during the interview. The prepared will help you if you get stuck.

Did I miss one? If you have interview tips for our readers, leave them in our comments.

Next week we will bring you more tips on how to market yourself in this economy.

Posted by: Lauren

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