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January 27, 2014

4 Secrets of Preparing For A Job Interview

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4 Secrets of Preparing For A Job Interview

By Dana Manciagli, Career Expert, Speaker and Consultant

Congratulations! You secured a phone or face-to-face interview. Your odds of "winning" the job in this highly competitive environment just skyrocketed. Now, don't blow it.

There are books, blogs, videos and more on how to ace that interview, including my own book, "Cut the Crap, Get a Job!" Right now, however, I want to share my top four secrets from the hiring manager's side of the table.

After interviewing thousands and hiring hundreds in big corporations and small startups, I want to help you come out on the top of the list after every interview. Ready?

1. Compare yourself to the job description (which was written by the hiring manager)

I recommend you do this work before you apply so you can write a fabulous cover letter, but let's fast forward to the interview.

Take out a piece of paper (or open a Word document on your computer). Draw three columns in a table and add the following content in short bulleted points.

Column 1: Major requirements from the job description
Column 2: Your skills for that requirement
Column 3: Stories or examples of how you performed that task

Here's why this preparation works:

Column 1: is the list of items that the interviewer needs to measure you against
Column 2: is your answer to, "Have you done this before?"
Column 3: is the answer to, "Tell me about a time when you" This is called a situational or behavioral interview question and it is becoming more common.

2. Prepare your answers to the most commonly asked interview questions

I still find it shocking to watch candidates stumble on questions like these: "What are your strengths?" or "Why do you want this job?"

Write down your short answers to the following before you go into an interview (an entire cheat sheet for these questions and many more are free with my book):

  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How do you handle stress and pressure?
  • Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
  • Why are you leaving your current job? (or, Why did you leave your past position?)
3. The interview law of 3s

For your preparation for Nos. 1 and 2 above AND for any other questions asked during the interview, use this major trick, which will help you and the interviewer.

The Law of 3s: For every question, you are allowed no more than three short, concise answers. Think and talk in bullet points. If the interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask you.

This rule will prevent you from babbling on and on, which we do when we are nervous. For the interviewer, you will come across more confident, self-aware and prepared.

4. Prepare great questions for them

The interviewer is not the only one who should have questions. You should have several carefully considered questions for him or her.

Again, congratulations on you securing a phone or face-to-face interview! Block several hours of time to prepare, follow the above tips, and you will do a great job.

Dana Manciagli is a career expert, speaker and career consultant. She has spent more than 30 years as a Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive, now retired after more than a decade at Microsoft. Dana is the author of the book, "Cut the Crap, Get a Job!" and a prolific blogger. She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

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