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Mastering the Interview

Great! Your winning resume has created enough interest that you’ve been asked to interview. Whether your first interview is on the phone or in person, the key to making a great impression is being prepared. Doing so will allow you to present yourself in a knowledgeable and confident manner, thereby increasing your chances of advancing in the process.

Here are some basic tips that will help you master the interview:

  • Do as much research as you can on the position, the company, the company’s competitors and the person/people with whom you will be interviewing.
  • Do as much research as you can on the position, the company, the company’s competitors and the person/people with whom you will be interviewing.
    • Know your resume. It is not uncommon for candidates to focus more on their most recent position when preparing for an interview. Be able to concisely articulate your strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments for each position listed on your resume.
    • Never speak disparagingly of a former employer, boss or colleagues.
    • Ensure that your social networking profiles are in keeping with the image you want to present to a potential employer.
    • Anticipate commonly asked interview questions and prepare answers to them.
    • Avoid the tendency to talk too much. Keep your answers to general questions concise and professional. If you feel a more verbose answer would benefit you, you can ask if the interviewer would like for you to elaborate.
    • Be honest. Like any solid relationship, the first meeting establishes a foundation from which you will operate in the future. Even though some candidates try to steer away from the truth when asked the “weakness” question, this is a great opportunity to show self-awareness, accountability and the ability to learn and grow.
    • Ask for clarity if confused about a question being asked so that you can appropriately answer the question.
    • Prepare meaningful questions, in priority order, for the interviewer and ask them in open ended fashion at the appropriate time.
    • Listen and focus. You can have a more meaningful exchange if you truly listen and focus on what the interviewer is saying as opposed to mentally preparing your next answer.
    • When on the phone, make an effort to find a quiet spot with no interference and good phone reception if you will be using a mobile phone. Also, pay special attention to your tone of voice and level of enthusiasm as these things are typically weighted more heavily in a phone interview.
    • If on Skype or in person, make sure to dress professionally. Even if a potential employer has a “business casual” dress policy, remember that the interview is the place where they will be evaluating how you will present to their Board of Directors, company executives, strategic partners and/or clients. You will want to have the most professionally polished image possible.
    • Make sure you have a pen and paper handy. If you are in person, you should take additional copies of your resume with you.
    • Be punctual. If you will be meeting in person, make sure you arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
    • Prepare a “close” or the last thing you want to say to the interviewer. This will be a statement about your impressions and desire to move forward in the process as well as an opportunity to determine if they share your feelings.
    • Practice, practice, practice! It is a fortunate thing that most of us do not get the opportunity to interview on a regular basis. Therefore, our interview skills can become a bit rusty. Ask a friend or family member to role play with you so that you can hone your skills.
    • Always follow up with a thank you note. Email vs. hand-written is perfectly acceptable these days. Keep your thank you note brief and just like with your resume, make sure it has been checked thoroughly for misspellings and/or syntax errors.


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