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On the Hunt: Interview with panache

MC900437531By Eileen Ramos

When you get a job interview, your main goal is to get them to see you as a team member.  Demonstrate your technical ability for this role and show what you can add to their group as well as show that you will be low maintenance. No one wants to babysit and micromanage a new employee; they want to see a go getter who will do their assignments right (the first time).

Think natty : Wear a pressed suit or pantsuit. Remove any unsightly lint or dog hair from your outfit with a lint roller. Wear minimal make up and make sure your shoes are shined. It’s better to overdress than under dress. Make sure you’re not chewing gum. And for all that is good in the world, leave your Starbucks, Dunkin’, or bubble tea in the car or the trashcan on the way in the building—unless of course you happen to know that the HR manager has a predilection for a double, low-fat latte (flatter will get you everywhere).

Research the company heavily. Google news stories about or involving the company . Follow them up on twitter. Definitely look carefully at their website. Make sure you know the name of the company—yes, there have been cases in which people were disqualified for forgetting who the hiring company was (yikes!).

If you are going to have a phone interview, wear a nice outfit anyway. Then stand in front of the mirror and smile. The interviewer can tell when you’re not smiling and enjoying the conversation and they might immediately cross you off their list of candidates.

One question that will usually pop is the dreaded “Tell me a little about yourself. [insert lexiboost: smolder here] How did you get to this point?” It is a rather tough question to be asked but don’t ad lib or improve it.  Have your professional story down cold and practice it in front of the mirror or with a friend. You will be glad that you did.

Another question is “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” There are number of approaches like the clichéd “Being a perfectionist is my biggest weakness” but here’s a tip: don’t be cliché. Something different to try: “Well my weakness depends upon the immediate project. It is a hard question to answer but here are five adjectives that describe me.” Then list adjectives a coworker or classmate who is less than in love with you might say. Then—this is the key—twist it. Mention how you would deal with him or her for the next month or so to create a positive working relationship.

When they ask you “Do you have any questions for me?” make sure that you definitely have at least one or two closing comments. You can ask

  • “What kinds of projects do you see me working in the first 30, 60, 90 days?”
  • “What immediate needs are you looking to fill on your team?”
  • “What does a ‘typical’ day look like for someone on your team?”
  • “Why is this position open? Is it growth?”
  • “What happened to the incumbent?”

And I’m sure you will think of more.

Bring three copies of your resume, three copies of your written references, as well as a list of contact referrals (including name, phone number, title, relationship to you, and email address). Always be sure to send a thank you note within 24 hours and if you want to be really classy, mail them one in addition to an e-mail.

Monster.com offers a 100 potential interview questions list that will definitely help you become a better interviewee. Practice them often and attend any interview you can get a hold of just for practice so you can become a better candidate. Good luck!

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Eileen Ramos is an enthusiastic introvert who has a fervor for words.  She loves collecting them and seeing how they fit in, and expand, her world.  She’s a writer by day, sleeper by night (well, sort of) and she can’t wait to see what title she earns next. For more information or to link with Eileen, check out her LinkedIn profile.

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