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How to Ace a Face-to-Face Job Interview

by Neil Kokemuller

If you have a great personality, strong communication skills, dress properly and are well-groomed, a face-to-face interview is an opportunity to sell yourself to a hiring manager. However, even with all of these qualities, you need to recognize a few key points to prepare and present yourself as the best candidate for the job you want.

Do the Leg Work

You start the journey toward success or failure long before your interview. An interview is essentially a sales meeting where you pitch yourself as the solution to the hiring manager's needs. Thus, you need to research the company and job as thoroughly as possible. Study the job description and get to know the critical requirements and skills. Compare this to your interests and abilities and prepare three to four main strengths or selling points to emphasize. Practice responding to anticipated interview questions and get feedback on your responses from a person you trust.

Be Yourself

One of the best qualities to demonstrate in an interview is a genuine personality, balanced, of course, by a professional, courteous and respectful attitude. After all, the employer is looking for the best "person" for the job and not the candidate who pitches the best answers. Still, you want to put your best foot forward by answering questions honestly, accurately and concisely. Knowing that your skills and abilities are a great fit for the job makes it easier for you to sell yourself genuinely. If you don't put pressure on yourself to be someone you aren't, it is also easier to show your personality, smile and develop a rapport.

Show Empathy

Few hiring managers are simply looking for the candidate who has the most impressive list of talents, abilities and experiences. In fact, much of the hiring decision boils down to how well the hiring manager likes you, whether he wants to work with you and whether you can strongly deliver on the critical job responsibilities. Use your research on position needs and answer from a position of empathy. Before describing a strength, for instance, contemplate how it matches up with the employer's needs. You might say, for instance, "I can tell hiring someone with excellent communication skills is important to you. I have a speech communication minor and regularly engage in interpersonal, small group and large group settings in my current position."

Project a Positive Attitude

Your attitude often has more to do with being hired, succeeding at a workplace and remaining employed, than your technical abilities. Thus, an employer is evaluating your overall attitude just as he is your responses to questions. Above all else, show yourself as a positive, upbeat and friendly person. A hiring manager may ask "what was your least favorite thing about your last job?" His point is likely to gauge your attitude toward work and your particular job. Avoid the temptation to rail on a previous employer and job. Instead, say something like "there were a few little detail things that I might have changed if I could, but the reality is I thoroughly enjoyed my job and recognized the importance of even the challenging aspects of it."

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