10 Ways to Master Job Interviews

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Entering the job market can be a truly terrifying experience. When it seems like it's just you, your resume, and a list of names left in the world, the market can seem like a lonely place. Some people have difficulty finding available positions. Others get frustrated when creating resumes and writing cover letters. The most commonly stressed over aspect of the job pursuit process, though, is the dreaded interview. Face to face with a person who may well hold your future in his or her hands, you're expected to ignore the sweaty palms or the embarrassing waver in your voice and make a great impression. How, exactly, are you supposed to accomplish this?

Trudy Steinfeld, a Forbes.com contributor, recently generated a lot of interest when she released an article with several incredible tips for boosting job interview success and increasing one's chances of making a great impression on potential employers. You can read her job interview tips and techniques by following the link. The process for completing a job interview with flying colors will vary from individual. Some people have personality traits, specific questions, lucky techniques, or other tactics that work for them and not for others. If you're looking for a head start, though, here are 10 simple ways to master job interviews and leave employers feeling duly impressed by your lineup of skills.

1. Prepare for the Interview

Steinfeld lists this step first, and for good reason. Preparation is the key to completing a successful job interview. If you aren't apprised of the job expectations, don't have any information about the company with which you are interviewing, or flounder through questions about your past work experience or personality, you aren't going to make much headway in the interview process. Preparation for a job interview is a three-fold process.

First, perform a little research about the company that's hiring. Knowing the name of their chief executive, the year in which they were founded, and the overall concept of the brand can be incredibly effective. Even if an interviewer asks you nothing about the company, you'll be confident during the process because of your added knowledge. Second, research the job for which you are applying. Show the interviewer that you are interested in this particular job and not just hoping to land the first job you can. Often, employers will choose to hire the individual who seems the most intrigued or excited about the offered job. Finally, while it may sound strange, it's a good idea to do some preparation and acclimation with your personal self. Review your past experiences, your life goals, and your skills. This way, you'll be able to answer personal questions with confidence.

2. Dress for Success

It sounds trite, but dressing the part can actually give you a big advantage during a job interview. Interviewers make snap judgments based on physical appearance when they form an initial impression of an interviewee. Don't show up to an interview at an auto repair shop dressed in a James Bond tuxedo, but dress professionally and in a way that is appropriate for the position in which you are interested. Pay attention to personal hygiene, too, and eliminate any personal style choices that may be distracting. The last thing you want is for an employer to be focused on your nose ring rather than the management position you held at your former job.

3. Make a Brilliant First Impression

Walk into the room with your head held high and your shoulders squared. Smile at every person you pass from the moment you walk into a building. Greet a receptionist or secretary and thank him or her for attending to you. Offer a firm and confident handshake to the people with whom you are meeting. These small elements of your job interview pack a powerful punch.

4. Maintain Eye Contact

Another aspect of first impressions that merits its own subheading is the importance of eye contact. Avoiding eye contact is a sign of low confidence or dishonesty: two personality descriptions with which you do not want to be associated. Don't stare at your interviewer with bugged out eyes, but maintain direct, professional eye contact. If you are being interviewed by more than one individual, make eye contact with the speaker while he or she is asking a question, but shift your gaze to each individual when answering.

5. Speak Clearly and Intelligently

Mumbling isn't going to get you anywhere, so speak up and answer questions clearly and intelligibly during your job interview. Also, leave slang and colloquialisms on the street. While your employer isn't going to expect you to speak like a Shakespearean actor, certain phrases may be distracting to an interviewer.

6. Bring the Necessary Docs

Don't show up to an interview without letters of recommendation, cover letters, resumes, and other important documents. There is nothing more frustrating for an interviewer or employer than waiting while a job applicant fumbles for the requested documents.

7. Maintain a Positive Attitude Throughout the Process

Another common interview practice that can diminish your chances of landing a job is negativity. It doesn't matter if you had the worst previous work experience in history or if your boss was a slovenly beast. Badmouthing previous employers doesn't make your employers look bad; it makes you look bad. Keep a positive attitude at all times.

8. Use Names in Conversation

One great tip that can help you make a subliminal impression is the repetition of names in conversation. If you are introduced to a Mr. Jones, address the individual by name when shaking hands. It may also be helpful to slip a name into an answer during the interview process. "That's a great question, Mr. Jones" will guarantee that Jones will pay attention to the answer you give rather than habitually tuning you out.

9. Take Advantage of the Q&A Period

When an employer asks if you have any questions, don't say "No." Have some intelligent and applicable questions ready. It doesn't matter if you already know the answers. Asking questions reveals your engagement in the interview.

10. Follow Up

When you walk out the office doors, your job interview isn't over. Wait a few days and send a kind and courteous thank you note to your interviewer. Don't gush or overdo it. A few simple lines thanking the individual for his or her time and consideration are sufficient.

These 10 ways to master job interviews won't necessarily guarantee a position, but they will dramatically improve your chances.

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