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7 Ways to Really Shine at Your Next Interview

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Jobs and Careers
So youve managed to secure a job interview for a position that fits you PERFECTLY. Now comes the moment of truth: Are you REALLY ready for the interview? If youve rehearsed what youre going to say and know the perfect answer to every potential question, youre half way there. Theres just one important thing youve forgotten:

Yourself.

How do you sell yourself and show your potential employer how valuable you can be to their company? You want to make them hire you TODAY and not even THINK about other applicants. You know youre the right person for the job, so how do you make THEM see that? Here are seven easy steps you can take to really make yourself shine during the interview process.

1. First, find out everything you can about the company youd be working for. Who are its customers? What is its mission statement? How does the job youd be performing relate to the companys goals? Finding out this type of information gives you great insights on what kinds of questions to ask your interviewer and shows them that youve done your research and already have some background in the companys business and objectives.

2. Read over the job description carefully. Analyze your own strengths and see how you can tie the two together. If you have previous experience, make note of those times where you helped achieve a specific result. Employers give more serious consideration to applicants who have a background and a track record in their industry than those who do not.

3. First impressions count. It should go without saying that you should arrive 15 minutes prior to the interview, dress appropriately (if not above) the position youre applying for, greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the discussion process. Be enthusiastic, personable and outgoing. Show a sincere interest in the people you meet and the work youd be doing. Interviewers can tell if youre desperate!

4. Show that you can solve problems and work well under pressure, since nearly every job will require both skills. If you can identify a particular problem in your industry or that you may face when doing this job, give the interviewer some ideas of how you would solve it. Be calm, relaxed and confident. Some nervousness is expected, but your overall mannerisms (such as fidgeting, nail-biting, slumping in your chair) will be an instant giveaway on how well you REALLY work under stress. Likewise, if you project confidence and security in how you carry yourself, the interviewer will definitely notice.

5. If your mind goes blank when asked if you have any questions (and you should ALWAYS have a couple of questions ready), consider asking why this position is open. Whats the companys track record and turnover rate? Are they performing well and keeping employees on board? Remember, youre not just selling yourself on how youd be a great fit for this company, but finding out how this company could also be a great fit for you.

6. If an interviewer asks a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, smile politely and ask, Why would you like to know? Remember, your employer is prohibited from asking you personal questions, including references to your race, gender, sexual preference, marital status and child care situations. Your interview should be focused on how well you can perform the job, not your home and family life.

7. After the interview, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note. Recount your strengths in the letter and highlight your qualifications. Touch on specific discussions or conversations you had with the interviewer to help them remember that polished, professional, enthusiastic candidate (you). Close the note by letting the interviewer know of your sincere interest in the position and your confidence in doing it well.

If you keep all of these suggestions in mind, youll not only have seriously impressed your potential employer, but youll come away from it feeling like a winner too! Good luck!