11 Tips for Nailing the Big Interview

Nail Biting MomentThe big job interview. We’ve all been there: it’s pretty nerve-wracking. That’s why we’ve assembled 11 easy-to-remember tips for next time you’re on the hot seat.

1.  Research the company – don’t go into a meeting “blind.” Do your research – as quick as a ten-minute gallop through Google. Find out recent news about the company, new products, new initiatives, how the housing downturn has affected their bottom line. Anything to provide a little conversational fodder.

  1. Dress at their level or above – Just because they have casual Friday doesn’t mean you should amble in wearing your dungarees. Show them this interview is important to you by dressing the part.
  2. Firm handshake – Sure, the “you can judge a person by their handshake” philosophy belongs more to the older generation, but it never hurts to squeeze like you mean it, no matter what your interviewer’s age.
  3. Keep chatter uncontroversial – Don’t venture into any touchy subjects. The weather is fine; your stance on gun control is not.
  4. Maintain eye contact – This is a biggie. Eye contact shows you are confident, engaged, and present.
  5. Try your clothes on beforehand – In your unemployed glory, you may have had the luxury of wearing sweatpants for the last six months, but don’t let it show. Make sure your interview clothes fit properly and look good, and that you haven’t grown or shrunk since last time.
  6. Magic Question A – Interviewers often delight in throwing you a curveball question. Come up with a great canned response for this gem: Describe a situation at work where you experienced a challenge or obstacle, and what you did to overcome that obstacle.
  7. Magic Question B – The other interview staple you need a good answer for: Describe a time you had a disagreement with a coworker or boss, and what you did to resolve the situation.
  8. Get a handle on your previous job(s) – You should be prepared to explain the duties of your previous job. And you should also be ready to explain why you left it. If you were downsized or if you left to raise your family, no biggie. If you were fired, you better be ready to do your best salesperson routine and let the interviewer know how this time will be different.
  9. Lose any accessories – Psychologically, you don’t want to create any negative associations. If you’re chewing gum, you’re the rude person. If you bring food, you’re the piggish person (hey, not fair, but nonetheless true). If you’re playing games on your iPhone in the waiting area (God forbid), you’re the childish one. Let them judge you on your merits, and not any unfair associations.
  10. Be yourself – You knew this cliché was coming, right? But it’s deceptively difficult to actually pull this off, nervous as you are. You’ll need to extend energy and maintain uncommon focus to “be yourself.” But it’s worth the effort: you are your own best asset!
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