The Art of the Interview

by | March 31, 2009

If the very word "interview" makes your palms sweat and your head itch, then take a deep breath, sit down and read this easy step-by-step guide to interview championship.

Dress appropriately. This one may seem basic, but it's easier said than done. Before you start your rounds of interviews, be sure to have a comfortable, clean, fairly conservative outfit. Don't neglect such crucial details as dark socks for guys or stockings without rips for women. Invest in a nice folder or portfolio in which to stash your resumes - otherwise you'll end up hurriedly smoothing them out after extracting them from the bottom of your backpack.

Be prepared to ask questions. Interviewers expect you to come in with a working knowledge of the company, as well as with a list of questions. When you've really done your homework, though, you may not be able to think of any questions because you already have the company's history, financial statistics, and the CEO's mother's maiden name memorized. If this happens, make up some questions ahead of time to ask during the interview. Also, and this is really crucial, know what the job is that you're applying for before you go into the interview. If you need a description of it, call the company's personnel department and ask to be sent information. If you don't want the personnel department to know it's you calling, have a friend do it.

Memorize your resume. Imagine the embarrassment if your interviewer asks you to elaborate on the summer you spent pearl diving off the coast of Tanzania, and you can't even remember where Tanzania is. For every item on your resume, try to have a paragraph's worth of information, in addition to what is already listed. Even better, try to think of a way in which each item illustrates one of your particular strengths or weaknesses. If you're too nervous to remember everything, it's all right to hold a copy of your resume in your hand to jog your memory. But don't forget to continue making eye contact with your interviewer.

Accentuate the positive. But don't brag too much. The hardest thing about an interview is making yourself sound like the kind of person anyone would want to hire without coming off like an arrogant jerk. At the same time, don't be self depreciating to the point of evaporation. It's important to be able to speak about yourself as objectively as possible.

Practice. This is the most important point. The day before your interview (or even earlier) put on your outfit, sit yourself down in an uncomfortable chair, and have a friend grill you with questions. Or, better yet, have a career counselor conduct a practice interview with you. Many career centers will even videotape your practice interview, so you can see your own strengths and weaknesses (and dandruff).

Relax. By the time interview day rolls around, you should be set. Get a good night's sleep, eat well and take a relaxing walk beforehand. And remember, it's just one job. If you don't get it, it's not the end of the world - it just means that fate has an even better opportunity for you waiting around the corner.

Filed Under: Interviewing


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