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How to Impress at Your Next Job Interview

What Shakespeare implied in his monologue from As You Like It rings true today in the world of job placement. We all have a part to play. And no matter how stellar your resume, cover letter, recommendations, and job skills are, if you don't play the part you won't get the job.

Over the years, employers have given me invaluable feedback on what they are looking for in potential employees. Staffing is one of the biggest costs a company has to cover. In addition to job skills, companies are looking for candidates with people skills, enthusiasm and the ability to engage. So be sure you have researched the company prior to the interview, and ask key questions during. Do you know the trends within this industry and the projected growth of this company?

Employers realize that past behavior predicts future performance, so be ready to give examples of what skills you've perfected. When asked a questions, take time to mentally prepare your best possible answer. It's fine to take a moment or two to answer, or repeat the question.

When working with students and adult job seekers, we teach the STAR method of excelling in behavioral-based interviews:

S - Situation: Succinctly explain your background to interviewers. Assume they know nothing about a situation.
T - Task: Explain what you were required to do.
A - Action: Explain the action you took in the situation.
R - Results: Discuss the results of your action. The interviewer needs to hear what you accomplished from the example.

Projecting a Positive Image
While the best job interview attire varies a little from industry to industry, most image consultants and hiring managers agree there are some basic guidelines you should follow. Here are a few recommendations for conservative business attire:

  • Wear a solid color suit or coordinating jacket with pants. Women should wear a skirt of an appropriate length - no mini-skirts or shorts.
  • Wear conservative shoes - no straps or sandals.
  • Limit jewelry.
  • Wear sparse makeup and perfume.
  • Cover tattoos.
  • No extreme hair color.

And I recommend leaving anything that would distract from an interview back in your car. This includes chiefly your phone, your iPod, drinks, gum, etc.

The image you present goes beyond wardrobing. Even if you're nervous, remember to smile - and don't be afraid to laugh. Employers also have communicated to me that they enjoy hearing specific stories during a job interview. Rather than list your job skills, why not speak about a specific project you worked on during training?

At the end of the interview, ask the hiring manager when he or she expects to fill the open position. Also inquire when would be an appropriate time for you to follow up with them.

Lastly, within a day or two, write a thoughtful, handwritten thank you note mentioning something specific from your interview, reiterating your core strengths and emphasizing how they are an excellent fit with what the company is looking for. This shows your enthusiasm and interest in the job.

Failing to follow up might cost you the position. According to a survey by the online job-matching service The Ladders, 75 percent of interviewers said that receiving a thank you letter from a candidate affected their decision-making process.

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