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July 18, 2016

Tips For Nailing Your Next Job Interview

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Tips For Nailing Your Next Job Interview

Minda Zetlin, Inc. Magazine

You're certain you're a good fit for a job, but before you can move into your new office, you'll need to make a great impression at your job interview. You know you'll be competing against other smart job candidates. What are your best strategies for nailing the tough questions and landing the job?

Here are some tips, gathered from career experts, that will help you shine in your next job interview:

1. Remember the real purpose of the interview

In most situations, by the time you sit down with a hiring manager, he or she has carefully reviewed your resume, looked into your qualifications and likely checked you and your former employer out on the Web and social media. The hiring manager's main objective is to learn who you are as a person, particularly whether you're likely to fit in well with the company and its culture. Keep in mind that the people you're speaking with will use their brief meetings with you to try to guess what it would be like to have you around for eight hours a day or more.

2. Do your homework, then do some more

Before you walk in the door, you should be thoroughly familiar with the company. So spend some time on its website, paying particular attention to its "About Us" pages, its information for media and investors, and its mission or vision statement, if any. All this will give you some clues on how the company likes to present itself and what its executives consider important. Don't stop there. Learn as much as you can about the person or people who'll be interviewing you. Usually the quickest and easiest way to do this is to look them up on LinkedIn.

3. Pay special attention to culture

Smart job candidates spend some time learning as much as they can about the culture of a company they're hoping to join. Culture can and should be reflected in the company's website, its mission statement, its office decor, its flexible or inflexible hours, the presence or absence of children and pets in the workplace, and even what people wear. Snoop around a little to try to get a good sense of the company's culture. If the company's culture seems at odds with your own style and values, you likely won't be happy there.

4. Prepare thoughtful questions

Many hiring managers will pause at some point during the interview and invite you to ask questions of your own. Having none to ask does not create a good impression, and neither does asking bad or clueless questions. Ask things like, "What are the most important aspects of this job?" or "What are you most hoping to see in the ideal candidate?"

5. Get ready to show off your accomplishments

Many experts suggest putting together a portfolio displaying your work. It might include such items as press clippings about you or your projects, programs at events where you were a speaker, awards you've won and so forth. You should also be ready to talk about what you've done. Asking candidates to talk about the accomplishments that make them proudest of themselves is a standard interview technique.

6. Be nice to everyone

You never know who'll be riding up in the elevator with you, or whom you're going to meet while waiting for your interview. And many clever hiring managers will ask the receptionist who welcomes you to the office whether you were pleasant when you arrived. With that in mind, your smartest strategy is to be friendly with everyone you meet in or around the company's office.

7. Spend lots of time listening

The more you listen, the more likely you are to gather valuable information. Most people really appreciate feeling heard. Remember that the hiring manager will extrapolate from your behavior in the interview to predict how you would behave as an employee. This is why one of the most common job interview mistakes is excessive talking. If you talk nonstop in an effort to impress the manager with all your expertise, he or she may assume you would also talk nonstop if you were hired.

8. Expect the unexpected

It's common practice for hiring managers to deliberately throw job candidates a curve ball and see how they react. You may find yourself meeting many more people than you expected. You may be asked odd or surprising questions. Whatever happens, keep in mind that the purpose of the tactic is to learn about you and how you react to stressors and surprises.

9. Don't forget to be yourself

One big mistake people make in interviews is to come off stiff and emotionless. Don't work so hard to make a good impression that you don't let your true personality shine through. Hiring managers need to see who you really are if they are to like you and trust you enough to bring you into the fold.

Minda Zetlin is an author, speaker, and journalist whose work has appeared in publications from Inc. to New York Magazine to Computerworld. She is the author or co-author of several books, most recently The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive.

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