Top ten interview musts

Take a trip to Amazon.com and you will find dozens of lengthy books on interviewing techniques. You can spend weeks preparing for an interview. These ten tips are what I believe to be some of the most significant in case you don't have a great deal of time to prepare.

1. Show up 5 to 15 minutes early.

Arriving even two-minutes late most likely will create a negative image. If the interview will occur in an area you are not familiar with, take the time to scope out your trip the night before. Who knows, you might find some sort of major construction project that would have really slowed you up. Recently, I had a candidate interview in a medium sized town in China. You would think the hiring authority would have given him some slack since they put him up in a hotel on the other side of town. Not to mention he's driving around in China! Well, he was 15 minutes late and you guessed it, he is still looking for a job.

2. You must smile and be

enthusiastic.

Shake hands energetically and firmly during introductions. Studies have shown that the first 30 seconds can be crucial in creating a positive image. If you do not feel happy, enthusiastic or energetic, then fake it.

3. Regardless of what the dress code will be when you eventually work there, you should always wear a suit to the interview (men and women).

It is always safer to overdress than to underdress. It's also important to make sure you're kempt; that your shirt/blouse is pressed and your suit is cleaned and your shoes are polished, and you do not smell of smoke or perfume. Your nails should be trimmed and you should have an appearance of cleanliness and order.

4. Bring five copies of your resume on nice paper and five separate sheets with your list of references.

If the company is serious about bringing you on board, they may have you there for six or more hours and have you interview with multiple individuals.

5. It is crucial that the night before, you prepare a list of questions and actually have them with you during the interview.

When they ask you if you have any questions, you absolutely must have some or you will create an image of being desperate. This act would be like saying, "I don't care what this place is like. I just need a job right now." Winners interview the company as well.

6. Early on, get the employer to verbalize what the ideal candidate would bring to the table.

If this is divulged early on, you can gage your responses to their questions in a way that matches what they are looking for.

7. Give yourself a fighting chance.

Toward the end of the interview, ask the interviewer if you seem to be a match for the position. Make the following statement, "I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the position. Do you feel I have the qualifications and background to excel in this role?" Now why would you ask this? Toward the end of the interview, the interviewer may be on the fence about your candidacy. If you can get them to cash in their reservations, this gives you an opportunity to address their concerns. You do not want them leaving that room with concerns that you haven't at least attempted to address.

8. I always advise my candidates to ask for the job at the end of the interview.

It can be very powerful to make the following statement, "I am very excited about the possibility of working for you and if you hire me, I promise you won't be disappointed." This bold statement can often be enough to land you the job by putting the hiring authority at ease.

9. Gather business cards while you are there so that you can send hand written thank you notes to everyone that you meet or at least the 4 to 5 most significant people.

And, of course, the thank you notes are written and mailed the same day. Remember, some of the most powerful people in any company are the Administrative Assistants. Always thank the admins!

10. Always behave during the entire interview process as if this is your only option.

If you have interviewed elsewhere and feel you are a shoe in for a position at a company you prefer, do not make the assumption you are getting an offer. Often, candidates will be overly relaxed and almost cocky thinking they have another job in hand. You may end up wishing you had put your best foot forward when the bird-in-hand flies away.

Mario DeCarolis is owner of West Bay Group, Inc.; a Search and Recruitment company specializing in Accounting, Audit and Manufacturing talent. He is also a licensed Master's level Psychologist (877) 947-WEST, Mario@westbaygroup.net.

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